Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Far Better Things Ahead

The budding of each glorious spring always brings the hope and promise of a fresh beginning. It allows us to shake off the old and step into the new. As we breathe in its daily transformation, our hearts become joyful as our spirits grow lighter. Spring brings us many causes to celebrate. It offers us Easter, Mother's Day, weddings, birthdays, and graduation ceremonies. What's not to love about this season that gives rise to new growth and the wonder of things to come?
If this is the springtime that finds you preparing to graduate, let Ever-Pretty help you choose the perfect graduation dress. They have many beautiful styles to offer. This long, floral print dress with its graceful high low hemline is a lovely choice for an outdoor ceremony. 
Maybe you prefer a shorter floral dress. This knee-length one, with its dainty, rose print is just the thing. The overall effect is totally charming, with its rounded neckline and peekaboo cutout sitting just above the waistline. 
You might want to go a bit shorter in length with this all over lace dress. The darling babydoll silhouette can be dressed up with a pair of simple strappy high heeled shoes. It has spaghetti straps and a v-neck that points down to a row of decorative buttons. 
If you love the feminine touch that lace gives and really like white this gorgeous v-neck dress with its asymmetric hem will be just what you want when you receive your diploma. It's one of the selections in Ever-Pretty's collection of white graduation dresses. A fresh face of natural makeup with just a touch of nude lipstick will complete your youthful, buoyant look in a white dress. 
Before heading off to college, celebrate your accomplishment with a trip after you graduate. By choosing this short one shoulder dress for your special day, you can easily incorporate it into your everyday wardrobe. This sweet summer dress will take you from graduation to that far away land you've been dreaming of.
Set your spirit free with this fun retro-printed dress of little red lipsticks when it comes time to shop for college graduation dresses. Once you've worn it to your commencement ceremony, you can make a fabulous first impression on your first day of your new job.  
There's a long road of hard work behind you finally. Graduation is your right of passage into a bright new future that awaits you. A future that's filled with the possibilities of a lifetime of dreams. Ever-Pretty is honored to be a part of all that lies ahead in your life. Let them help you choose beautiful, affordable graduation dresses to wear for your graduation ceremonies and parties and for all the days ahead. Great adventures are on the horizon!

                     "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."
                                                             C.S. Lewis

                        *This post is kindly sponsored by
                                All sentiments and selections are my own.*

Monday, April 22, 2019

When Blue Flowers Sing

There's just something about blue that makes me sigh with deep delight, especially when it's found in nature. Tiny wildflowers, so vivid they might have come from an artist's brush strokes, sing out to me in the early spring. They fill me with an overall sense of calmness and well-being. When I spy a patch of lovely blue sprouting up from the earth, I am awash with serenity. It's like nature has gently encompassed me with azure skies above and a blanket of sapphire flowers dancing about my feet. When Mother Nature arrays herself in shades of blue I am completely soothed.
Suddenly I find myself wanting to be surrounded by as much of this mystical color as possible. I mimic nature by dressing in more blue clothing. I find myself choosing gorgeous blue fibers to create with. This stunning handpainted sock yarn is my recent example. I love the way the colors fade in and out of vibrancy. 
Once again, I chose a crochet pattern by designer Kristin Omdahl. I'm a huge fan of her feminine touch in crochet design. You can find pattern details and see how the scarf lays while being worn, in this previous post
I am always totally captivated by a piece of crochet that has flowers worked into it. This scarf makes me particularly happy with its charming blossoms that flounce around when in motion. It's long enough to wrap in any way that suits the mood of the day. Being lightweight and on the somewhat narrow side, adds to its extreme femininity. 
Recreating a little fraction of nature is always very centering for me. I am deeply grounded by the beauty found in nature. So when I'm able to express any part of it in my artwork, whether it be crocheting, knitting, or writing, I am wholly satisfied. The sense of connectedness I derive from it is absolutely freeing. 
The next time you encounter a field of magical blue flowers, dancing beneath the brilliant sky, stop for a moment and stand very still. You just might hear them singing to you too. Or sit down amongst them and allow your soul to be set free.
"Blue has no dimensions, it is beyond dimensions."
                                        ~ Yves Klein

"Flowers are my music."
                                                              ~ Thomas Walker Arnold

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Travel the World in Style

Does the Jamaican Coast whisper your name as it laps its way to the shore? Are you pulled to the ocean by rhythmic waves of blue that call to your soul? Do you long to feel salty breezes blowing through your hair as you walk in the sun of a distant land? If you have a wanderlust to roam gorgeous coastlines in warm, carefree days, let FashionMia help you travel the world in style.
They have an abundance of beautiful dresses for women in every style, size, and color imaginable. Like this lightweight, sleeveless dress of chiffon. You'll love the delicate flutter of it against your skin as you stroll along the seaside.
 This might be the summer you finally get to take that long hoped for birthday trip. Imagine yourself in this gorgeous off-the-shoulder maxi dress on your special day! You'll feel the elegant flow of it all day long as it moves gracefully around you. An extra special dress always makes the day more memorable.
If you need a dress to take you from the beach into town to shop and have lunch with a friend, this darling mid length shift, with its sprinkling of flowers around the bottom, is absolutely perfect. It comes in four beautiful colors and six different sizes.
Your adventure may fly you by plane into a city you've always longed to visit. This ultra-feminine dress, filled with roses, will take you all through the day, right to dinner in the evening. During the day, you can keep it simple with flats, minimal jewelry, and an everyday purse. Then dress it up with high heels, more jewelry, and an evening bag for a special date or a summertime wedding.
You may find your summer travels taking you on walks through city streets, as you take in the sights you've seen only in your dreams. When dresses or plain clothes aren't quite what you want, let FashionMia outfit you in one of their sexy jumpsuits.
They have jumpsuits in beautiful styles, not only for daytime sightseeing but also for that night out on the town. You can add a pair of dangling earrings, your favorite pair of strappy heels, and head for the ballet, the opera, or sparkle at a dinner party.
 Maybe this spring or summer will find you as a guest at a destination wedding. Choose this fashion-forward jumpsuit, with its quarter length bell sleeves for that wedding you're attending. Jumpsuits are a classy, trendy and sleek alternative to a dress. They're beautifully stunning and appropriate for daytime and evening wear. They can be easily accessorized for formal occasions.
Wherever your adventurous spirit leads you in the upcoming season of your life, whether you sail on the wild blue ocean or soar away with the clouds, FashionMia has everything you need to pack your suitcase for the journey ahead. Wearing clothing that makes you feel more confident and beautiful can be an important step in making your dreams come true. FashionMia makes it fun, easy, and very affordable. So go ahead, let your imagination run wild!

"What is a Wanderess? Bound by no boundaries, contained by no countries, tamed by no time, she is the force of nature."  ~  Roman Payne, The Wanderess

*This post is kindly sponsored by
All sentiments and selections are my own.*

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Lost in the Beauty of Spring

I took a little drive this week down a country road, headed for an appointment. As I traveled along I began to revel at how very blue the sky was. Bluer than it had been in ages. It was bursting with white billowy clouds, as though it had been inadvertently overstuffed and they were somehow falling out. There was green grass covering hills and meadows, along with tiny buds on many of the trees. Some of those trees were wearing blossoms of pink or white. It seemed as though the entire earth had come back to life again, finally! 
Before long it occurred to me that I had gone too far and had missed my turn quite a way back. The sensation of panic and the feeling of being lost began to flood me. This was absolutely ridiculous, of course, because I was only ten minutes away from home in totally familiar territory. While I was still in that all over sweat mode, and considering turning around to head back in the opposite direction, I spotted the landmark I usually watch for along this route. There it stood, like a beacon, ahead of me in the distance. Wait a minute. Really? Okay, wow! This adds a whole new dimension to being lost. I often find myself being off with the fairies if I am alone in the car. My spirit wanders and takes my mind along for the ride. If the day is a particularly fine one, well then, who knows where I might find myself. While I was never truly lost, I had been lost in the beauty of the budding Springtime that enveloped my senses. I had become one with the day.
That sky with its utter blueness had caused me to keep going forward and forward with no sense of time or space. It beckoned to me, while at the same time surrounding me and holding me in its embrace. No longer did I have a sense of mere self, I was an integral part of the whole.
Technically, I was not alone. Riding next to me, in his little crate, keeping a watchful eye on me, was my nine-month-old poodle, Percy. The appointment I was heading for pertained to him, however, he offered no help with directions. Basically, he couldn't have cared less where our destination was. As long as he gets to go along with his mommy, he's a really happy boy. For him, the joy is always in the journey. (I think there just might be a lesson to be learned from his sweet attitude).
Since time was of the essence though, I began to reign myself in. I'm here to tell you there was a war within me. While still feeling a bit mentally confused, albeit relieved, to find I was not actually the great distance down the road that I thought I was, I was also disappointed. A big part of me wanted to remain in that euphoric place of dreamland. The battle was almost otherworldly, as I forced myself to shake off my dreamlike state and carry on with the task at hand.
But I took the usual turn, and glancing at the clock I realized I was cutting the time pretty closely. Apparently, I had been moving in slow motion while floating along with those irresistible, fluffy clouds. No matter, I knew I could make it on time. I only had one more turn to take off this long, busy street. Eventually, I would turn right onto a road that's so small that it's easy to buzz right past it if you aren't paying close attention. Well, being in the state of mind, or rather the mood of spirit, I was in, buzz right past it was exactly what I did! Seriously?!
It became evident, at that point, that I needed to make a call to the veterinary clinic to make my feeble excuses as to why I was about to be late. After all, I had only been there once before and the building does sit back, kind of out of sight on that out of the way road...(no mention was made of my otherworldly state of being).
Being late is a dragon I have slain, for the most part, over the years with the help of living with a very punctual husband. I don't like for my tardiness to reak potential havoc on the busy workday schedule of someone else. But they were extremely gracious and in the end, I was only five minutes late. 
Though I still don't like to be inconsiderate to the valuable time of others with my lateness, I am thankful that in this instance no harm was done.  
There are times when I find it is actually quite valuable to us to have our head in the clouds. Although I didn't like the psychological feelings associated with being lost or late, my overall day was an extremely wonderful and refreshing one. What it did for me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually was like rain soaking a dry and thirsty land. It was even physically good for me because I slept better that night than I had for many nights prior to that. Sleep does not always come easily to me.
So, what were some of those random thoughts that were taking up so much space in my mind, or more accurately, in my spirit, as I drove down that country road? Here are a few that I remember:
"How can a sky be so blue?!"
"God, what made you choose blue as the color for the sky and the ocean and so many things that soothe our souls?"
"Oh my goodness! The grass is getting green everywhere!"
"There are pink flowers on the trees again!"
"I wonder if it's possible to keep driving until you end up in the clouds?"
"Those bushes are covered in big white flowers, I wonder what those are called..."
"I have to remember to stop and visit with the geese at the park on the way home."
"That sky..."
I love the changing of the seasons. Spring with its continual rebirth and renewal and Summer with its lush fullness are my favorite seasons. But I have learned to be happy with each season, each day,  as it comes, no matter how it is clothed. I believe this is what God meant by giving us our daily bread. I also believe it is the key ingredient to living a meaningful life full of purpose. As humans, we are prone to making much ado out of nothing, whereas God's ways are simple. He means for us to enjoy the journey along the way. He wants times of rest for our souls. He desires that we live in the moment, being anxious for nothing, without always rushing ahead. He doesn't mean for us to borrow the troubles of tomorrow, while still breathing in the joys of today. He offers us rest, which gives us restoration. Days like I had on that country road when I was lost for a time, are moments of restoration for the soul. They are individual Sabbath moments when we connect with God through nature. I think Percy and I might just take another ride in the country next week when we have no place to be and all the time in the world to get there.
"If you . . . call the Sabbath a delight . . .
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the 
heights of the earth."
Isaiah 58:13-14

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Birthday Ballerina

It's been a lovely week here. A week of vacation for Scott and me, precious time that we've spent together and with family. Also, we have had the joy of seeing our beautiful granddaughter perform with Peoria Ballet in their production of Alice in Wonderland. Gabby was able to celebrate her twelfth birthday doing the thing she loves most in the world - ballet
Her birthday was on Friday, April 5th. We went along with Chelsea to take her to lunch after the ballet held a morning performance for the area schools. Gabby loves Mexican food and La Fiesta, here in Morton, is a family favorite. They sang happy birthday to Gabby when they brought out her dessert. Besides doing Alice in Wonderland, the show also included the beautiful Spanish ballet Paquita. As they were singing to Gabby, they saw this on her T-shirt and sang happy birthday to Paquita instead of Gabby. We all got a kick out of that!
Peoria Ballet's rendition of Alice in Wonderland was absolutely stunning. It was full of adorable woodland creatures. Gabby was part of the Cheshire Cat as well as a Deer. The make up you see on her face at lunch is part of her deer costume. Chelsea is a makeup artist and her expertise is invaluable during Gabby's ballet performances.
All of the costumes, props, and makeup are done by volunteers. 
The mom's and dad's of the dancers work hard behind the scenes
to make everything come together. They have amazing talents and dedication.
This is a backstage glimpse of Gabby and the young man who played The Mad Hatter. Todd is originally from Morton and grew up with my oldest daughter, Hilary. He has spent the last several years performing and teaching dance and fitness in New York City. He was phenomenal as The Mad Hatter! 
This is Gabby and me after last nights performance. She's actually taller than my 5'3". I'm wearing heels there and she is wearing flat shoes. The lighting and background aren't the most flattering. But at these events, we have to take what we can get in order to capture the moment. 
In the twelve years, since this lovely creature entered the world, my life has been enriched in countless ways. Yes, she was the first to usher me into the newness of grandparenting. But there's so much more than that alone. Gabriella - that's the long version of her name. It's meaning is, a woman of God, God is my strength or messenger of God. Day by day I see her growing into the fullness of this name. She has definitely been God's messenger to me. He uses her to teach me. Through her eyes, the world is a gentle and kinder place. She loves all people without reservation or judgment. Her nature is soft and sweet, as she literally floats through this life. Observing her is like witnessing poetry in motion, and that's even when she's not dancing. She is the rare, physical embodiment of what God calls the pure in heart. I am so thankful that God chose this humble family to drop such an ethereal beam of starlight into. She already, at such a tender age, has a strong sense of who she is. What a powerful thing this is to see. It's what we want for our future generation. I recognize a whole mind, body and spirit connection in total sink within her. To have internal direction and be at peace with oneself, at any age, but especially at such a young one, is of great gain.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Matthew 5:8

"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle."
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Magic of Purple

Colors have the distinct power to awaken a full range of emotions within us.
They bind our memories to times, places and people we hold forever dear.
Our soul connects colors with the fragrance of our favorite flowers.
 Just the sight or smell of lilacs, floating on a gentle breeze, 
and we are instantly carried back to a carefree day, 
spent in the golden sunshine of early Spring, 
 with the one our heart adores.

Since the beginning of time, purple has been the queen of colors. 
There was an era when young lovers presented gifts of light purple flowers 
 to the object of their affection as a token of the joyous beginning of new love.
Lilacs, in particular, were a symbol of the first budding emotion of romance. 
Is it any wonder we feel the allure of Spring as it embraces us each year?
Our senses sparkle with life once again as we are captivated
by nature's divine shades of purple, declaring that love is in the air. 
If you are planning a Spring or Summer wedding, 
let purple reign supreme, as your heart
 is enchanted by the splendor of its luxurious hues.
For the most beautiful Purple Bridesmaid Dresses,
in shades and styles to flatter all 
of the special ladies in your wedding party, 
shop the gorgeous selection at Ever-Pretty.
Your bridesmaids will flow down the aisle in classic elegance with the soft swish
 of chiffon in individual tones of purple to enhance their lovely complexions.
 Or for an absolute dreamy effect, you might choose soft shades of
 grey or pink for the most magical day of your life.

You'll enter the world of fairy tales
 when you grace your bridesmaids 
in gowns of various pastel colors like this one,
 boasting a delicately ruched sweetheart neckline
 with a divine corset lace-up back.

The beauty of a Spring wedding, that's done in an array of different pastel colors, can be breathtaking. Choose the bridesmaid dress your heart is longing for and adorn each bridesmaid in her own color for a purely feminine aesthetic.
 Ever-Pretty makes it so easy and extremely affordable!

The deep rich, jewel tones of plum or aubergine
 are luxuriously suited to a formal 
Spring or Summertime wedding.
Dark purple is said to have a sacred meaning
 from days of old, due to its rarity in nature.
It's thought to be precious, noble
 and the color that depicts deep devotion.
Summer afternoon weddings call for
 the loose flounce of a short bridesmaid dress
in vivid violet with shiny, strappy silver shoes.
Violet purple, the color for faithful, undying affection.

Or the timeless soft, sweetness of delicate pink.
Light pink, the symbol of tenderness, kindness, and comfort, 
as well as the longstanding color of total femininity.
Crown them with flowers and wrap them
 in the simple elegance of periwinkle blue satin.
Nothing is more classic than satin in clean lines,
while periwinkle gives us feelings of serenity and calmness.
For an outdoor Summer garden wedding,
 pair lovely shades of lavender with soft, buttery yellow.
Lavender was the ancient flower and color for holy matrimony.
Yellow brings us happiness, joy, and loyalty.
Always consider using white dresses to either mix and match with other colors
or make a statement of stunning sophistication all on their own.
They are gorgeous for daytime or evening weddings.
By day they are cool and crisp, adding an extremely stylish air to your wedding.
 For an evening wedding, imagine the purity of white in a candlelit church.
Or a night of exchanging vows beneath the twinkling stars.
 The beauty of all white will add an ethereal essence,
 as your wedding party dances under the gentle glow of the moon. 
If you're planning a destination wedding,
the variety of choices in style,
as well as color, is absolutely fabulous.
Whether you choose purple as your main color,
or decide to blend it with the many options
 that complement it so beautifully,
 you are sure to find the perfect dress 
 for everyone in your wedding party.
Finally, you stand on the shore of your new horizon.
This is the day you have waited for all of your life.
It needs to be as magical as you've always known it would be.
Let Ever-Pretty help you make all of your wedding dreams come true.

"All the other colors are just colors,
but purple seems to have a soul -
when you look at it, 
it's looking back at you."
~ Uniek Swain

*This post is kindly sponsored by
All sentiments and selections are my own.*

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Nature of God

  Through the many harmonies of nature we are constantly 
being refreshed, renewed and reborn.
  It is an avenue, a conduit, God uses for our continual
 healing, personal growth and forward motion in life.
 As I stood at my kitchen sink early this morning,
looking out at a familiar scene that has given me
 great comfort for over thirty years now, 
my heart quickened and I was lost in a reverie of pure joy.
For there in the distance, across the yards to the back of me,
standing with great majesty in the hazy sky, 
are a pair of old trees I've known and loved for years.
I've watched each season change their crowning glory
 all these decades, and today they have signaled to me, 
even through the gloom that cloaked them like a shroud,
 that Spring is about to touch my weary and thirsty soul again.
I was so happy to see that these lovely old trees are clothed
 all over once again with a sprinkling of tiny buds of red.
Immediately the Psalms rose up in me...
"O clap your hands, all peoples; 
Shout to God with the voice of joy." Psalm 47:1
"Let the field exult, and all that is in it,
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy..." Psalm 96:12
And so the cycle begins again. Freshness, newness and rebirth.
I am clapping my hands and singing, along with the trees,
in a joyful voice to God with great thankfulness.
I am reminded, even in the cool grey dampness of a March day,
 that God has His hand on everything and just as the new dawn
                                    of yet another Springtime is gently starting to unfurl, 
He will always lead us out of the wintertime of our souls. 
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3 
If you have woundedness, loneliness, brokenness or despair of any kind, 
take the time to listen to nature and you will hear the voice of God.
He speaks to us in the rustle of the pines, the chatter of the squirrels,
the ebb and flow of the seasons, the hush of a new fallen snow,
 and the soft stillness of a moonlit night.
 He calls to us, He teaches us, He loves us beyond measure.
His ways are not our ways. We spend our days caught up in worry.
He offers salvation, hope, restoration and peace.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
Not as the world gives do I give to you. 
Let not your hearts be troubled,
 neither let them be afraid."
John 14:27
God created so many things in the natural world to
benefit our hearts, spirits and souls, if we would just take time
to slow down and observe and absorb His presence all around us.
In perfect stillness I watch a hawk gliding through the sky.
What utter grace and beauty and peace.
Then it hits me afresh...
God's Word says I am even more valuable
than this glorious creature. I am humbled anew.
But there's more to that portion of scripture. 
He is also using the birds of the air to teach us not to worry.
{Matthew 6:26}
He wants us to look to nature and see Him; fully know Him.
Through the trees he tells us, though the branches are barren for a season,
He breathes new life into them as they continue to reach up to Him.
He shows us that, as the clouds turn from ominous grey to billowy white,
they roll away and reveal a bright blue sky that is fresh and new and clean.
These elements of earth and nature are our examples. 
They were designed for a purpose by a Father who loves us.
"But ask the animals and they will teach you, 
or the birds in the sky,
and they will tell you; or speak to the earth,
 and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.
 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?
 In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind."
Job 12:7-10

We all have unique ways that God speaks to us through nature.
I would like to encourage you to seek quiet new ways
 to meet Him in this vast, glorious world He has given us.
You just might be amazed at what it will do for you.
Sometimes it brings poetry out of me so fast I have to 
capture it with pen and paper before it fly's away forever.
I'll leave you with a recent example and a hope
 that you will begin to touch the heart of God 
in new and deep ways in the days ahead.



There will be peace
In the valley of my soul
As it reaches toward that place
Of beauty and wonder once more.

My heedless heart wanders;
Restless to the core,
As it seeks verdant hills,
Holding memories from distant shores.

I stand open, trembling and free.
Your breath whispers in soft breezes
Of pine needles blowing
Over, under and all around me.

My eyes cling to barren trees,
Reaching, clawing in their nakedness
Through winter's forsaken sky,
Pleading in their supplication.

We search this world together,
Longing for our healing touch.
Till evening cloaks us both in softness
And blackness hovers all around.

Finally you find me in the darkness,
Weaving stars throughout my hair.
Stars of hope eternal
And love that knows no end.

You cover me in moonglow.
How very like you to blanket me
With the brightness of your glory
In the Winter of my soul.

Danette Bartelmay
February 2019