Caravan Sonnet: April 2018

4/21/18

Custom Altered City Journal with Midori Cover and Insert

Happy Saturday friends! Today I am so excited to share with you a cute addition to the shop! This adorable Custom Altered City Journal With Midori Cover and Insert is now available for purchase! (You can find it HERE!) 
If you have been around the blog for a little bit then you know that 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 not only my journals, but my favorite books with colorful, unique, whimsical, and pretty ribbons, sweet paraphernalia, and writing that speaks to my heart and that encourages me. I am smiling as I type this because even right now as I am studying to work to get my teacher certification I am making all of my study notes pretty. I will have to show y'all soon!! *smiles*
This is especially true of my personal travel journals that I have made over the years for my various trips. I love recording and creating a keepsake that will last forever for me and wanted to provide the same for those who are traveling.
I created this altered city journal of Madrid with a Midori Cover and Insert this past weekend for a dear friend who is going to be traveling there soon. I love the warm color combination and loved adding in touches of purples and light blues alongside the rich red and coral tones.
Have y'all been to Madrid? Spain is a country that I have yet to visit and after creating this it has definitely been added to my list of places I want to see!
This travel set is the perfect gift for not only yourself but for a loved one who is traveling or a unique wedding gift or graduation gift! It is a keepsake that will last forever!
If you are interested in purchasing the custom listing for this Custom Altered City Journal With Midori Cover and Insert you can do so HERE
If you are interested in looking at other travel journals in the shop you can find them in the travel journal section HERE! If you are looking for other custom journal options that are available in the shop you can find them in the custom journal section HERE!
Happy Saturday friends! I hope that you have a wonderful day with friends and family!!

PS- Interested in seeing a short video of this travel journal? Check it out on my shop instagram page HERE

4/19/18

Being Sick Well

When I first became ill and was forced to move out of state and back home with my parents in 2012 because I desperately needed help, I read a book that I believe changed my entire course of how I have walked this health journey. I have definitely failed, it was a flawed process in many ways, but the book encouraged me to live out the concept that illness was not going to rob me of who I was or how I treated those around me. The book, Being Sick Well, was written by Jeffrey H. Boyd and it was a book that I have read at least a hundred times in this journey. Filled with lots of stories it encouraged me (as the title stated) to approach illness with dignity. In the midst of the book there are a ton of helpful suggestions and here are eleven things that I have definitely taken away from the book and tried to implement in these last six years. (If you are interested in purchasing the book you can find it HERE.)

(1) Be Upfront and Clear with Your Limitations...
No matter the response you receive make sure that you are upfront and clear about what your limitations are with your illness. To be honest this was a hard thing for me to learn at the beginning of this journey as my heart wanted to go and live like I had been before I got sick. Unfortunately when I wasn't clear everything ended up more of a mess and usually resulted in me crying. Learning to be upfront and clear about my limitations helped me to put down boundary lines that have truly helped me heal. I know that sometimes this can be hard to do, especially if you don't receive the support you hope to, but continue to be firm but kind with your limitations. I promise that overtime this is one of the best things you can do to live well with a chronic illness. 

(2)Accept Help. 

(3) Share Specific Things that Others Can Do to Help You. 
The difficult thing with illness is that often times loved ones truly don't know how they can specifically help someone in a health crisis. Find ways to lovingly share specifically what your loved ones can do. A friend of mine who struggles with extreme back pain due to a failed surgery found that asking her for help with her laundry saved her countless days in bed after she attempts to do it. Personally for me I have been so grateful for my dad helping me with changing Scamper's litter. It might be something small or it may be something bigger on a routine basis, but think through ways that others can help and then as mentioned in #2, accept the help. 
If you are someone who is looking to help a friend with a chronic illness I have written several posts over the years that you may find helpful: 

(4) Be Vulnerable With Your Tribe
It can be hard to be vulnerable when you are feeling so sick and tired with pain and sickness. I know that a lot of us want to put on a brave face with those that we encounter, but having the courage to be vulnerable can be a life-changing situation for living well with a chronic illness. Having this courage can help prevent a lot of awkward issues from occurring during this journey. Take the leap of faith and express your heart. 

(5) Be Patient With Explaining The Health Lingo
As patients we become so familiar with spouting off all of the different terms, nicknames, meds, supplements, cell interaction, cell pathways, symptoms, etc. that it can be hard to remember that our friends and family can be left feeling overwhelmed and dizzy by the amount of things we are talking about. Even though our lives may revolve around the sickness aspect, theirs revolve around us. They want to understand and they do care, but we may need to extend some patience as we have to explain something again and again. Be patient and understand that they are doing the best they can.

(6) Be the Best Friend and Family Member that You Can Be. 
It can be hard to keep up with all of the important dates in people's lives since you became ill. Sometimes we are just trying to cope with the day let alone remember to purchase a card or a gift for someone. Despite the way that illness has changed you fight to still be the best friend that you can be. This may look different than before you got sick, but still take the time to connect with others, make phone calls, send cards, and deepen your friendships. Stay connected in every way possible to your tribe. Honestly, I haven't done the best job of this over the years. Maybe you feel the same way. It is never to late to re-start. Take the time today to make a phone call or write a letter. I promise you will be glad you did. 

(7) Do the Best You Can to Attend Events
You may not be able to attend them all or even a handful, but try to attend all of the important events that you can. Even if you don't feel or look the best, people will be thrilled to see you and it is great for your life. 

(8)Understand That This is a Season
There will be beautiful days again. Hold on to the hope that there are far better things ahead than we could ever imagine.

(9) Acceptance
For every single person struggling with a chronic illness this is going to mean something different, but Amy Carmichael was right: "in acceptance lies peace". 

(10) Let Friends Go
Let the people go who are not willing to walk this journey with you. Let them go freely and give your blessing. Forgive and live in joy. Wish them well, let go of the bitterness, and walk the road in front of you with dignity. Stick to the Code. (Yes, I did feel like I was quoting the Pirates of the Caribbean saying that. hahaha, but seriously, Stick to the Code,)

Also- a side note here... it can be hard to deal with comments like "but you don't look sick" or one that I continue to receive is, "but you don't act sick". It is hard not to get offended by these comments, but take the time to understand that this is a learning lesson for everyone involved. Some will understand and get it and some others won't. Let the ones go that don't with dignity and move forward. I wrote a post back in 2015, answering the but you don't act sick statements, that was incredibly powerful and freeing for me to write. Maybe consider doing the same thing for you and having a mantra when these statements come? Live with dignity and let the people go who don't support you.

(11) Find Joy in Every Day.
There is joy to be found in every single day if we look for it. Look for it. Search it out. Fight for it. You will never regret finding joy.

4/18/18

December Caravan Instagram Sale- Happening Now

Head on over to the December Caravan instagram community as I have just finished listing all of the items for the December Caravan Instagram Sale! Items include altered journals, scripture buntings, child buntings and junk journal and vintage supplies (including a very fun grab box of a mixture of items!) Thank you so much for your sweet support of my shop! 

You can connect with the December Caravan community by clicking HERE

Interested in just checking out the shop? Lots of new goodies have been added in the last three weeks with lots more to come! You can go directly to the shop by clicking HERE

See you on over at the IG page!

4/17/18

Her Texas Cowboy Release Day!

I shared about this book, Her Texas Cowboy, with my instagram community a couple of weeks ago and also last Monday in Monday Inspiration and Encouragement Post but today is RELEASE day for Jill and definitely wanted to share it again!

A little bit more about the book (for those of you who want to purchase it- and you should!): Those of you who know me know that one of my favorite books is "just show up" by Jill Lynn Buteyn and the late Kara Tippetts . The truth that is on those pages for walking with someone through suffering is gently beautiful. 

I then discovered that Jill wrote these incredibly tender love stories and have enjoyed each one. When I found out about her newest release I was so excited to read it! I read it on my trip to Florida and y'all it is sweetly written, beautifully encouraging, and incredibly delightful. 

Go pick up a copy y'all!! You will love it! Congratulations Jill! You are so talented!! I can't wait to read your next one!!" If you are looking for a sweet love story to read this spring, you will want to check this book out. It is incredibly tender and it is available for purchase HERE

5 Bucket List Activities You Should Try Every time You Travel

Traveling the world will allow you to experience new cultures, sights, smells, and sounds. However, when you’re not visiting historic landmarks or tasting a country’s native cuisines, you’ll want to have a little fun with your travel friends and improve your health. So, if you have a little downtime between exploring, here are five bucket list activities to try every time you travel.
Try a Water sport
Are you traveling to a sunny destination? You need to master at least one water sport. It’s easy to fall into bad habits when traveling, as you might eat the wrong foods, drink the wrong drinks, and experience limited exercise. Water sports such as surfing, deep-sea diving, or kayaking can ultimately provide some much-needed physical activity. It will also allow you to have a little fun alone or with your friends, and you could also develop a new passion and skill. You’ll never know unless you try. 
Visit an Escape Room
Strengthen the bond you have with your travel buddies by stepping into an Escape Room Charlotte. You’ll have sixty minutes of sheer fun as you all race against the clock to figure out how to break free from the themed room, which will have a fun story line for you to follow. It’s a great way to escape the sun and have a little fun indoors with your friends. 
Find a Hiking Trail
Let’s face it; traveling is expensive. If you want to stop spending money but are looking for fun ways to fill your time, you should start hiking. There are many fantastic hiking trails across the world to add to your bucket list, and they are often the best way to breathe in the beauty of your destination. You’ll fall in love with a city or town once you reach the top of the mountain and experience unencumbered views of your chosen destination. What’s more, walking through the woodland can improve your cardiovascular health and can increase your stamina and strength. Not to mention it can help you burn a considerable number of calories and can reduce anxiety and stress, so it will allow you to embrace the travel experience.
Go on a Walking Tour
Bus tours can be expensive, especially when traveling the world, as all those tickets can eat away at your budget. Free walking tours will, however, allow you to learn more about a city on foot, as a helpful tour guide can direct you from one attraction to another whilst offering a ton of information. So, it is one activity you should certainly add to your list.
Take a Day Trip to Another City
If you only have one destination in your itinerary, why not make it your mission to take a day trip to a nearby town or city. Most of the world’s popular destinations are flanked by hidden gems or popular tourist cities, so do your homework to find the best places to visit in the vicinity.

This may be a sponsored post but all of the thoughts I agree with and match the tone of my blog . 

4/16/18

cancer FREE

Five years ago (and 10 days) my life as I knew it changed. It was 6 weeks after I had received the diagnosis of Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease, the day after I had received several additional health diagnosis' & I was sitting alone in a doctors office thousands of miles away from my family, hearing the devastating news that I had Cancer. Alone & very scared I was told that I would need immediate surgery & chemo & there were questions that this may have been the issue all along. Surgery would tell all.
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The next three days were filled with lots of scans, tests & tears & the surgery. Beautifully, (while I still needed treatment) the prognosis wasn't as dire as originally thought & my surgeon declared that a miracle. I went to bed grateful yet overwhelmed as the doctors words of "the next five years will tell the story of your journey with skin cancer...it will be an absolute miracle if you heal" ringing in my ears..
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I think back to that day 5 years ago feeling hopeless & scared & not knowing the road and journey that was to come. .
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But Friday morning I left the doctor for my 5 year scan grateful & overwhelmed with emotion as I received incredible news that what I was told 5 years ago would be impossible & a miracle: I am officially Cancer FREE...I spoke with the surgeon from all those years ago recently (to thank them) & was told "I don't often witness the miracle stories but you are one".
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This journey may still have a ways to go in regards to total healing, but this is a beautiful victory, with lots of rejoicing, lots of laughter & hugs, & doctors encouraging words & celebrations.
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Every serious illness journey is filled with hundreds of people who play such important & key roles in it. Words could never describe the gratitude I continue to have for each of you that are walking this difficult road with me. 

Thank you to those of you who have given financially in the past to help me get to where I am & to those of you who continue to pray. Your support, your encouragement, & your love are priceless gifts in this journey. 

Thank you for weeping with me when I weep, & for rejoicing with us in this beautiful news today.

4/14/18

940 Saturdays Altered Journal

Happy Saturday friends! Today I am so excited to share with you a cute addition to the shop! This adorable 940 Saturdays Custom Altered Journal is now available for purchase! (You can find it HERE!) 
If you have been around the blog for a little bit then you know that 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 not only my journals, but my favorite books with colorful, unique, whimsical, and pretty ribbons, sweet paraphernalia, and writing that speaks to my heart and that encourages me. I am smiling as I type this because even right now as I am studying to work to get my teacher certification I am making all of my study notes pretty. I will have to show y'all soon!! *smiles*
When I found this journal I knew immediately it would be a perfect addition to the shop! 
It is amazing to think that from the time a baby is born until they are 18 there are only 940 Saturdays that a family spends with that child. Remembering the sweet, the ordinary, and the special occasions is a lifetime treasure that new parents will want to keep forever. 
This book is the perfect gift for a new mama (or a new grandparent!)! It is a keepsake that will last forever!
This journal has 480 pages and comes with a practical suggestion guide for all different ages. Ranging from easy to complex the ideas vary and will be the perfect addition to any new family. 
When I listed the journal originally (as seen in the pictures above) it sold out within an hour! I then received several custom requests so I decided to add this to the custom request section of the shop! 
If you are interested in purchasing the custom listing for this 940 Saturdays journal you can do so HERE. If you are interested in looking at other custom journal options that are available in the shop you can find them in the custom journal section HERE!

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

4/13/18

Cruising the Middle Rhine [Part One]

On our 5th day of our Rhine River cruise we had the amazing opportunity to spend the morning cruising the Middle Rhine River. It was a beautiful experience and I am so excited to share with y'all tons of pictures. It truly felt like a storybook come to life. Because there are so many pictures I am breaking this up into several posts! I hope y'all enjoy- it was magical and I hope this inspires you to plan a trip to cruise the Middle Rhine!
I loved the way that Viking Cruises did this scenic cruising morning. After a leisurely and wonderful breakfast we had a chance to gather our cameras (and dress warmly!) to head up to the top deck of the Viking Eir. On the top deck you could hear the program director sharing information about the places we were seeing and the castles that we were passing along with other interesting facts. It was cold and a bit rainy off and on that day so they also provided the lounge area where you could see and hear the information too. 
In some ways the moments where the clouds were extremely dark against the Rhine River outline almost made you feel that you had stepped back in time to when these castles were filled and used as defense areas. 
What was interesting to learn is that over half of the castles that we saw as we cruised were now hotels. In some of the pictures you will see signs for HOTEL which has allowed the castle to have continued upkeep. 
It seemed like around every bend there was a beautiful new castle or cathedral to see!
One of the neat things about river cruising is that you definitely get to really see the country or state that you are traveling through. One thing that I marveled at as we were cruising through the Rhine was the way that life has continued surrounded by all of these historical places. People have continued their communities, are driving to work, going to school, etc. Every single day they are surrounded by seeing these castles and that is a normal part of their day. It made me pause and think about what I consider to be a "normal" thing that I see every single day - and to really stop and appreciate the beauty that I am surrounded with. 
One of my favorite parts of the early morning was when this beautiful rainbow came out across the hills. It was simply gorgeous!
One of my favorite places on the river cruising- the beautiful church in the distance was so gorgeous!
This unique castle structure in the middle of the river was so cool! 
I hope that you loved the first part of our cruising on the Middle Rhine! I can't wait to share more with y'all in the coming week!

If you are interested in reading more about our Basel to Amsterdam cruise on Viking, you can click on the links below: