Friday, July 19, 2013

A Hiatus

Dear Reader,

You and I have been on a journey together these last several years. You have sat along with me exploring many adventures, a few recipes and more than a few musings on life.  I have enjoyed sharing every moment with you.  But I'm sure you've also noticed the length of time between posts has been growing.  This is not due to any lack of interest in sharing events with you, but is rather, the inevitable consequence of time spent out living and working on other writing projects.  To that end, I must tell you that I've decided to take a hiatus from the wonderment for a while. Not a permanent one, I hope.  But just a break to explore other blogging outlets for a time.  I want to thank you for reading this and invite you to join me, if you'd like, on one of the topics listed below.  I look forward to meeting again. Until then, have a marvelous 2013.  May the wonderment be with you ;-).

Much Love,
The Modern Girl's Tea Party Primer   
Letters to My Godson    
Letters to My God Daughter   

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Healthy in 2013 (Happy New Year!)

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."   Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Happy New Year, Dear Reader!  2013 has arrived!  Are you ready?  Have you been waiting on pins and needles like a child on the last day of class before his Christmas vacation begins,watching the clock obsessively and wishing his teacher would stop going on about useless educational stuff and the bell would ring so the holiday could truly begin? Was 2012 a banner year and now you're looking forward to another?

Have you been longing for the new year because 2012 was simply ghastly and you'd like to put it behind you, to start afresh?

Or, has 2013 snuck up on you? Perhaps like an unexpected car repair lurking around--you knew it was coming but had hoped to put it off for a while yet.

For me, 2012 seemed to go impossibly fast--like water streaming through a sieve, leaving me with only the scattered bits too big (memorable?) to slip through the mesh of mundane everyday-ness.  I vaguely remember several expensive car repairs (probably best to keep it fuzzy), losing nearly 30 lbs (kind of miraculous, when you think about it), finding numerous ways to quietly serve others (really enjoyed that) and stretching every penny til it cried.  The trouble is the little buggers aren't all that elastic. Go figure.

Regardless, 2012 was a year full of lessons.  My focus for the year was "humility" and boy, I got plenty of opportunities to practice!  They say that you are often most useful to God when you are broken.  In that case, I must have been quite handy.  Of course, there were some shining moments too.  Cousin gifted me the dearest four-legged friend a girl could ask for:

and God blessed me with a couple opportunities to be truly USEFUL to someone else in ways I never was before. I also had much more fun than is probably good for me (as usual) and was able (with the help of my dear, co-party planner H) to host a series of very pretty tea parties which delighted many friends.

 Best of all, 2012 brought a deepening of my relationship with God and the adoption of certain spiritual disciplines (namely tithing and daily quiet time/bible study) which, when done faithfully, add immeasurable peace to each day.  I also spent a great deal of time studying what it means to be a godly woman and how that role plays out in daily life and in the church.  Rather than being confining or requiring I minimize myself as I had feared Christian precepts might do, I was elated to find freedom and affirmation of the truths I already knew about being a woman--the ones God places in the very fiber of all our being.  (Curious?  Msg, call or text me and we'll get together for tea--too many lovely, illuminating things to share in one blog post.)

All right, so 2012 has been assessed, processed and all wrapped up.  So what will 2013 bring?  Well, if you've been following the wonderment for a while, Reader, you know that instead of making guilt-inducing resolutions each January, I now pick a word (or theme) to focus on throughout the year.  So far I have done Relinquish and Humility. This year's word is Healthy. Here is an excerpt from this morning's journal entry to explain:

...Guide me, Father, in becoming more like your son in the year ahead.  I wish to do your will and live your plan for my life in 2013.  Am looking forward to this 3rd year of our relationship, of walking with you.  Whatever this year holds, Father, I will endeavor to rely on you.  Success or failure, I will turn to you--to rest and abide in your peace.  I will celebrate successes with you and mourn losses with you.  I will choose to seek your guidance and will for my life. When I sin, I will return to seek your forgiveness.  I will also choose to truly accept the grace you offer and forgive myself.

As Geri Scazzero suggests, I will endeavor to control only that which is mine to manage (and manage the resources you provide wisely).  I will let go of the things I am not responsible for and let others make their own mistakes so as not to enable their damaging behaviors and deprive them of learning the lessons you would teach.  

Father, I ask that 2013 be a year of getting healthy.  As I grow in my faith and relationship with you and as you begin to reveal a path of spiritual leadership before me, I recognize that the only way to become the most effective leader I can be, is to be a whole and healthy person.  So, this year I will focus on the following areas of health: spiritual, emotional, physical & financial.

I recognize, Father, that it's impossible to achieve total success in all of these areas.  There will be pitfalls and setbacks.  But you will be there every step to offer your love and grace.  My goal is not to pursue perfection, but instead make "imperfect progress" as Lysa TerKeurst suggests.  I resolve to do my best to move forward in each of these health areas so I can step closer to being the healthy child of God you created me to be and accomplish great things for your kingdom...

Well, there you have it, Reader.  I will get down to the nitty gritty of goal-setting in each of these areas over the next few weeks.  But having an over-arching vision for 2013 in place and praying for guidance on what to tackle will be immensely helpful. 

What about you?  What kind of change would you like to see in your life this year, dear Reader?  Has God been quietly pointing you toward something He wants you to focus on?  Do you have that naggy feeling something in a part of your life is missing or isn't right?  Is there something you long to do but don't see how you could ever get there?  What would the first step in that direction be? 

I know, I'm asking all kinds of squirmy questions that maybe hurt a little and seem like a lot of work.  And maybe you don't really feel like thinking about that kind of thing on this blustery, first Tuesday in January.  Maybe you'd rather just rest from last night's over-indulgence or kick back and watch football on this last day off.  Maybe you're too busy cooking all kinds of wonderfulness for loved ones to gobble up, that you don't have time to think about how you're doing, what the year might bring or if God (is there one?) has a plan for your life.  I get that.  But maybe...just maybe...there might be a tiny bit more to it.  Maybe a chance to start afresh.  Maybe a chance to right a wrong.  Maybe the smallest, seemingly insignificant step that gets you thinking and puts your foot on a path that changes everything forever.   

Cheers, Reader.  May 2013 bring you revelations, not too many complications and much joy!   

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.  What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn?  What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice.  Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson quote courtesy of the Quote Garden.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Relevant Blessings (Unused Skill Sets)

My friend Poptart & I at the Big Splash! Event
Writing, I think, is not apart from living.  Writing is a kind of double living.  The writer experiences everything twice.  Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind.  ~Catherine Drinker Bowen

Happy October, dear Reader!  After a very creatively-productive summer, I must admit to feeling a tad deprived as we hit that time of year when the flow of creative work begins to slow down.  Then today, came along a little shining moment to remind me all is not lost and I have not yet reached artistic hibernation for the winter (or longer).

I came upstairs to my office this afternoon and heard the news that my 'little article that could' had made it onto page 16 of Vitamin Retailer Magazine's October 2012 issue. Yes, there it was in my hands, in full color on glossy, trade magazine paper and accompanied by a few of my photos.  (I've never been glossy in full color before!)  True, it's only a little re-cap piece about my company's 50th Anniversary Big Splash! event this past August.  Just a little blurb thanking the vendors and staff who participated and made the celebration a rousing success at all 11 of our stores.

But, you know, it felt really good to do all the familiar, necessary stuff for writing up a press release or local event: gathering company facts and figures; asking for a few quotes; visiting several stores on the big day to photograph all the fun; and writing clean, informative copy for a deadline.  I haven't written for a deadline (other than my own bedtime) in a very long while and it felt pretty darn good to play writer again.

When the article made its way, along with some photos, into our parent company's September newsletter, it was great to see my coworkers, supervisors and the staff at our stores recognized for all the hard work and effort they put into making our 50th anniversary such a success. But that was the limit of any aspiration I had for the little piece.  Somebody said something about maybe submitting it to Vitamin Retailer, but I got busy with other projects and promptly forgot all about it.  Until this afternoon.

It just goes to show, dear Reader, in those moments when we're caught up in the busyness of work and life, that those might be the moments God uses to remind us the skills we've developed over a lifetime (but maybe aren't using right now) are not just wasting away on a shelf in the back of our brains.  He has given us these skills and the reoccurring opportunities to use them for a purpose.  We won't always know what that is.  But, when we do finally recognize these moments for the relevant blessings they are, we're one step closer to embracing His plan for our lives.  Maybe today I'll be a writer.  Maybe tomorrow, I'll be a data entry whiz or just a photographer.  Whatever I am, I'm always a child of the living God and able to choose to walk in His perfect will for my life.

God Bless you, dear Reader, and may you sleep tight tonight!

Quote courtesy of the Quote Garden.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jail Bird Arrested for 3rd Time

Jail Bird (aka Micah) after her "arrest" last night.
A cat, after being scolded, goes about its business.  A dog slinks off into a corner and pretends to be doing a serious self-reappraisal.  ~Robert Brault

Thought you might enjoy a quick laugh this morning, dear Reader.  Last night, the above-pictured pooch offender somehow got outside unsupervised and decided to take a jaunt through town all by herself.  

Fortunately, a neighbor, living on a street we can't find on the town map, found her in his yard and called the local police. After we realized she was missing and had been searching all over town in vehicles and on foot, Aunt called the police and was told she was down at the station.  Neither of us even knew where the police station was--we are hardened criminals after all--so Aunt Chef & Uncle showed us how to get there.

Then, after an appropriately contrite conversation with the very attractive officer on duty, we got to take our little Jail Bird home.  This time it didn't cost any money to spring her from the hoozgow.  Bonus.

Yes, dear Reader, this is not the first time Micah has been picked up by the local authorities.  She escaped from Cousin once in southern Illinois and escaped another time from our house during a visit last year.  Alas, she now has a reputation with the law.  But the officer did say she was "awful friendly."

So, to commemorate her 3rd release from police custody, I snapped the above shot and submitted it to my favorite new website (I'm hoping it will become your favorite too): If they approve and post it, millions of people around the world will soon be laughing at her adventures.  There's some real humdingers already on there, by the way.  So, check it out and have a wonderful day!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Today's Bounty from the Farm

 It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.  ~Lewis Grizzard

 The middle of September is already upon us, dear Reader!  I find myself asking the same repetitive question every two weeks or so: where does the time go?  Well, as I never seem to find a satisfactory answer, I shall just move on and tell you about Micah's first trip to the farm today.

Her Royal Cuteness came out to visit with her doggie cousins and get some quality socialization time.  Plus she's been bouncing off the walls at home, so dear Aunt & I hoped this might tire her out a bit.  In fact, she had a marvelous time! She "helped" clean stalls, rode along to get shavings and walked very quickly behind (notice, I did not say chased) Aunt Chef's accidentally free-range chickens.  She sniffed everything that needed sniffing and happily used her long lead to clothes-line unsuspecting buckets.  A very satisfactory day, I gather.

But Micah wasn't the only one enjoying a marvelous afternoon at the farm.  Here, dear Reader, are some photos I took while playing with Micah and then blissfully picking gorgeous, ripe veggies in Uncle & Aunt Chef's garden.  Enjoy!

Green leafy happiness and cherry-red life, bursting with seeds.  ~Terri Guillemet

Show-stopping Peppers
View from the Tomato Vines

Tomato Bliss!

Giant Yellow Squash

Perfect time to pick!

Lovely Coleus



Squash Vines

Ben, Miniature Donkey

Tessa, German Shepherd

Uncle's Truck

On the Horse Barn


The man who started it all.

For Aunt Chef

Lovely Iron Ornaments


Micah, resting

Hard-working Farm Poodle

Julia keeping watch.

It was a good day!

Fresh Peppers


 Keep as near as ever you can to the first sources of supply—fruits and vegetables. ~B.W. Richardson

Quotes courtesy of the Quote Garden.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Summer of Bridal Showers

The Gift Table
Clasp my love around your neck,
Wear my heart on your finger.
My soul will be your pendant:
I live to adorn you -
You're the precious one.
~Grey Livingston

Ah, dear Reader!  After the hottest and driest Illinois summer I can remember, it's finally beginning to feel like fall!  Hurray! But before I embrace the long-awaited season of  knee-high boots, plaid skirts and scrumptious sweaters, I want to give summer one last peck on the cheek and share with you some of my favorite photos from the two lovely outdoor bridal showers I was blessed to photograph in August.

So here, in no particular order, are beautiful brides, gorgeous guests and delightful Pinterest-style parties! Enjoy!

Julie's Shower...

Goodies from Pottery Barn

Bottles Hand-Wrapped in Yarn

Ready for the Guests

Mason Jars for Beverages...Genius!!!

Bride & Bridal Party
Opening Gifts

Cute Tabletop Vignette

Photo Display of Bride & Groom

Bride at the Photo Booth
Margaritas, anyone?

The Flower Girl

Bride & Family

Fun at the Photo Booth...

Love this!

Kelli's Shower...

Poesy engraved on the ring
Love engraved on my heart.
~Astrid Alauda

The gorgeous Bride!

Tea Sandwiches

Teapot Cookie

The Bridal Party

Toasting the Bride

Ladies' Bridal Shower Tea

More Delectable Goodies

Tea Party Centerpiece

Ah, the Gifts!

A Happy Bride


Tea Party Centerpiece

Tea Set

The Bride

Outdoor Vignette

Caprese Salad Picks

Tea Party Tablescape

Bride & Guests


Bride & Guests

  Quotes courtesy of the Quote Garden.