Friday, June 3, 2016

Summer Break!


Summertime is here! William and Adelaide are enjoying a break from school for the summer, and I have decided to take a break too. I will be taking the summer off from blogging, but I will be back after Labor Day.

I will still be around on social media this summer. If you want to keep in touch you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Have a happy summer, friends! I will see you in September!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Travelling with a Chronic Illness

Travelling with a Chronic Illness | Cranberry Tea Time

Last year we made a trip to Arizona and back. There were times leading up to our departure when I thought we must be crazy for attempting such a huge trip with my physical limitations! But we needed to go, so we planned and prepared, and we made it work.

I promised to share a blog post with tips for travelling with a chronic illness, but last summer tired me out, and I never managed to get the post written. This year I am writing a travel tip post before the long days and weeks of summer tire me out. If you have a chronic illness and are planning a trip this summer, I hope that some of these tips will be beneficial for you.

medical supplies and assistive devices

9 Tips for Travelling with a Chronic Illness

1. Bring all of the necessary medical supplies and assistive devices. 

How do you make a cross country trip when you meet the medical definition of "homebound"? With LOTS of stuff! We brought along my wheelchair, a travel walker, a stool, ice packs, IV supplies, an IV pole, a Roho cushion, and lots of medications, vitamins, and supplements. My medical condition almost doubled the amount of stuff we had to bring for a 4 week trip!

We brought along IV supplies so that I could have an IV every 3 days while we were travelling. Being able to have IVs made sitting up in the car for days of driving much easier than it would have been otherwise. My husband was trained to start IVs several years ago, so doing IVs while travelling is a fairly easy option for us. If you have dysautonomia and need IVs, there may be infusion centers you could go to with a prescription from your doctor so that you can get your needed fluid boost while travelling.

You may need different supplies than I did. Bring what is helpful to you and makes your days easier. Be prepared for the extra fatigue that may come along with travelling, and prepare ahead of time for "bad days" while you are travelling.

2. Plan for days of rest. 

We never drove more than 2 1/2 days in a row. After that we would stop so that I could rest for a day or two before getting on the road again. Riding in a car is exhausting, and the time to rest was crucial. On the days when I stayed in bed to rest, Will and the children would go out exploring local sites. After they came back I got to see pictures and hear all about their adventures!

3. Drive for short periods of time.

On the days when we drove, we often didn't drive more than 4 or 5 hours total. This allowed me to get the sleep and rest I needed on most days.

4. Stay in good hotels.

Hotels don't have to be fancy and overly expensive, but staying in a hotel that has good beds and thick walls is helpful for getting a good night of sleep. Our favorite places to stay are the Holiday Inn Express and the Staybridge Suites. We know that both of these hotels will have comfortable beds and good breakfast food in the morning.

5. Bring plenty of snacks and water.

Be prepared for hunger, thirst, and blood sugar crashes. If there are long stretches of road between restaurants, it is helpful to have food and water on hand. When you have a chronic illness, waiting to find a restaurant can be very hard on your body. The fatigue of chronic illness is difficult enough without adding extra fatigue due to hunger, thirst, or a blood sugar crash.

riding down the highway in New Mexico

6. Get as comfortable as possible in the car.

I bring pillows and blankets to make the ride more comfortable. I also partially recline my chair so that sitting up doesn't take quite as much energy. Because blood pools in my legs when I am sitting, I have to keep my feet propped up while in our van. I either put them on the dashboard, or I tuck them up on the seat with me. It isn't the safest position to be in, but I physically cannot sit straight up with my feet on the floor for more than about 15 minutes. 

7. Enjoy the view from your vehicle.

Enjoy the scenery as you drive! If you are too tired, don't step out of the car at scenic viewpoints. Just enjoy the view from your car and save your energy. I sometimes take pictures through the van window instead of getting out of the vehicle for pictures. In fact, I often take them while we are driving! This allows me to enjoy the scenery and taking pictures without adding extra time to our trip.

8. Visit national parks.

I have discovered that national parks are one of the best places to go on vacation if you have a chronic illness or disability. There are wheelchair accessible trails that allow you to enjoy the outdoors in a way you might not be able to on typical hiking trails. There are also usually scenic drives that allow you to enjoy the beauty of nature without having to get out of your car if you aren't up for that much physical exertion. National parks have air conditioned visitor's centers and small museums that are wheelchair accessible. They are also usually very quiet, which is helpful if you get migraines or sensory overload.

9. Get an Access Pass if you qualify for one.

Access Pass
If you are a United States citizen with a significant and permanent disability, you qualify to receive a free Access Pass! This pass will give you entrance to any national park or federal recreation land, and you can also bring up to 3 other adults in for free with you. Children under 16 are always free. You can learn more about the Access Pass here. If you don't qualify for an Access Pass, there may be another type of discounted pass you could use.

What are your best travel tips?  If you have a chronic illness, what makes travel easier for you?

Friday, May 27, 2016

I Am N

“I am n?” What does that mean? 
When militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) moved into northern Iraq, they began identifying Christian-owned property. Families would find the Arabic letter ن (nun, noon), or n, painted on their homes and churches. This single letter conveyed the powerful accusation that the occupants were “Nazarenes,” people who followed Jesus of Nazareth rather than Islam. 
To be labeled “n” in a community dominated by Muslim extremists is to undergo an immediate identity and life change. With this mark comes the ultimatum: If you convert to Islam or pay the tax, you can keep your material possessions and remain in this community. If not, leave or you will die. 
Any person who takes a stand for Jesus in occupied Iraq, any person who chooses to be “n,” pays a high cost. 
- The Voice of the Martyrs, I Am N

On the days when I have to spend my time confined to bed, I often think about, and pray for, the persecuted church. It is easy to feel lonely and sorry for myself, but when I think about my brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith around the world, my hard days are put into perspective. I may be alone, but I am in a comfortable bed and a cozy house. I may be tired, but I have food and water. I have access to Scripture. I have a husband and children who take care of me.

Praying for the persecuted church helps me to focus on others instead of on myself, and it gives me something productive to do even when I am exhausted.

Because the persecuted church is often on my mind and heart, I was grateful for the opportunity to read I Am N: Inspiring Stories of Christians Facing Islamic Extremists. This book was released by The Voice of the Martyrs earlier this year, and it tells of real events that took place between the years of 2001 and 2015. Some details like names and specific locations have been changed in order to protect the people whose stories are being shared, but the book gives real accounts of modern day persecution.

It took me three months to read I Am N because of the heavy nature of the content. I never read more than three stories at one time, and I often only read one story before taking a break for a few days. It was a hard book to read, but also a very good book to read. This book helped me to better understand the hardships faced by persecuted Christians, and it provided me with the opportunity to pray for specific Christians in specific ways.

I thank the Lord for the faithful testimony of these believers who are standing firm in the faith, despite insults, loss of family, loss of property, physical harm, and risk of death. Their faithfulness encourages me to persevere in my faith and in the life to which God has called me.

I received a complimentary copy of I Am N from the publisher through Net Galley. All opinions are my own.

I Am N - The Story

If you are reading this in an email, please click over to the blog to see the video.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 
1 Peter 5:8-11

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Persevering and Choosing Joy on the Hard Days

The past few weeks have been filled with a lot of hard days. A "good day" is when I am able to be out of bed for four or five hours, but even on the good days, I often struggle to move. My body feels like it is on its last drop of energy, and everything I do is a physical challenge. Sometimes I wonder how my muscles are even moving because they are so tired it feels like it shouldn't be possible.

My body is tired, and my mind is tired, but I want to persevere. I want to keep on keeping on when life is hard. I want to choose joy not just on the good days, but on the bad days too. Here are some things I have intentionally been doing lately as I seek to persevere and choose joy:

Reading through Job and Psalms. I am working on reading through the Bible this year, and it "just so happens" that I recently finished the book of Job and am now reading in Psalms. It has been perfect timing, and the words of Scripture have encouraged and strengthened my heart.

Praying daily. I often ask God to help me be "joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12).

Listening to music that encourages me to persevere. I have a playlist with some of my favorite songs that I like to listen to while resting in bed.

Putting on lotion that smells good. I have recently been wearing Peppermint Spice body butter on my hands. It smells like Christmas and the outdoors and happiness all rolled into one. And it was made by my friend, Dorina. I can't help but smile when I wear this!

Enjoying Dandelions. Wildflowers from my daughter are a sweet reminder to find love and beauty where there are weeds.

Sitting by the fire pit. This is homebound camping at its finest! I really miss camping, but being able to sit by a fire in my backyard was such a treat. It wore me out so much that after 2 hours I had to go inside and take a nap! But the picnic, fire, and time with my family was delightful.

Appreciating the extra time to crochet. After finishing my scarf, I made fingerless gloves with the leftover yarn. Now I am working on a baby sweater, bonnet, and booties to enter at the county fair this summer. If I wasn't struggling with brain fog I would have been spending a lot of my recent time writing instead. The brain fog has been a blessing because it has forced me to spend more time crocheting, which is something I love to do.

How about you? What are you struggling with currently? And how are you choosing joy and persevering? Let's share our ideas and encourage one another today!

Keep on keeping on, sweet friend! Or, as my friend Elizabeth often tells me, "KOKO!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Busy Hands: Bristleberry Scarf

I have had a lot of sleepy, tired, and brain fogged days lately. It seems that I enjoyed my higher energy levels too much, and after a couple of weeks my body said, "That's it. You're done. It's time to rest." 

I took an unintentional blogging break because I was too sleepy and brain fogged to think and communicate clearly. In the past few weeks I have said a lot of backwards things to my family, friends, and to the lady at the Verizon store! I decided that I should not attempt to write a blog post until the fog cleared! After letting my brain and body rest for a while, I am trying to get back to blogging and gentle activity around the house.

Despite the sleepiness and brain fog, I did have had the energy to work on some crocheting, which was such a blessing. The inability to write gave me the time to finish up this project I started last fall.

I used the Bristleberry Scarf pattern found in the Crochet One-Skein Wonders book. I used most of a skein of this yarn that was a gift from a sweet friend. It is a soft and beautiful yarn.

Yesterday it was cool enough for me to wear my scarf! I probably won't have another chance to wear it this spring, but I can't wait to pull this scarf out again in the fall.

What have you been doing lately to keep your hands busy? Are you working on any projects?
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