So much of what I think will nourish me and provide purpose and meaning to life only ends up leaving me empty. It makes me think of the song “Lookin’ for Love.”
I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places
Lookin’ for love in too many faces
Searchin’ their eyes
Lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreaming of
Hoping to find a friend and a lover
I’ll bless the day I discover another heart
Lookin’ for love
I’m not looking for love, I found that, I’m looking for daily purpose in my life. I hop from hobby to hobby, always trying to turn those into a business only to get tired and move on to the next thing. I’m seeking a sense of fulfillment and purpose…I’m just looking in all the wrong places.
I found my answer in the words of Jesus. As I continue my journey of reading and studying the words attributed to Jesus, I find that all the answers I need are right in front of me. He set the ultimate example. I just try to make it way too difficult.
My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.
In a previous post I wrote about the work each of us is given to do. Doing that work is doing the will of God. Being the wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister and friend that God created me to be, is doing the will of God. Showing Jesus to the world in the way I act, speak and behave, that is doing the will of God.
In a world filled with dopamine rushes at every turn it is easy to think we are missing something in our lives if we don’t get that high from all activities. Those moments of pure joy that come with doing something and feeling the reward…those are gifts from God to let us know we are on his path. But just like eating cake or winning a video game, too much of a good thing makes that thing mundane.
Be you. Be kind. Especially be kind to those who are not kind to you and let God handle the rest. That’s what Jesus did. He went where he was sent and took care of what was right in front of him. The more we live like this the more opportunities God will bring across our path to experience the joy of true nourishment.
Back in October I wrote a post about my sacred space and seeking that small, still voice. Then I lost focus, wandered aimlessly while grasping at things I thought I wanted or needed, until I re-read that post this morning. It struck a chord with me as much as it did the day I wrote it. Follow the link to read it for yourself. It is worth the time. Then come back here. I have more to say.
Eight months later I am feeling somewhat lost again; for so long I haven’t been able to figure out why. I’m doing the stuff I thought would make me happy and fulfill my soul. Guess what? It hasn’t worked and that caused the feelings of hopelessness and emptiness to grow. Nothing shows what is going on in my head like that view of my desk I took this morning. Disorganized, messy with no real ability to function or be productive much less be conducive to peaceful meditations.
This morning, while sipping coffee and reading The Truth And Beauty by Andrew Klavan, I sat and quietly asked for guidance; and then I waited. What happened next was amazing. It was a fantastical experience of life flashing before my eyes that gave me a glimpse into the purpose for which I was brought to this earth.
In my mind’s eye images of me through the years came flooding back as if they had just happened, but these images encompassed most of my life and all of them revolved around faith in and love for Jesus Christ. These images include being the only one in my family passionate about church, to baptism, teaching in the church, going to Bible college to learn as much as I could and being identified as having the gift of teaching, mentoring youth, receiving unsolicited encouragement to write, and realizing that the only writing I can consistently do is when I write about faith its value to life itself.
God has given me a gift. I can write in a way that seems to resonate with people. I’m a simple person and what I have to say is not academic, flowery or fancy. I write about the ways God touches my life. I do it in the hope that someone somewhere connects with Him through my words.
I am on a new journey. I know it will be transformative for me and I desperately want to document it here. I want it to be a consistent and enriching experience for myself and anyone who wanders across the path of this story. I will save the rest for another day. If you have found me for the first time or this is your first time…welcome. This blog is not new but it is renamed and repurposed. I contemplated erasing old posts, but decided against it. We all come to Jesus at different times and in different ways.
I never really left, rather I allowed myself to loose focus and look towards other things to fill the emptiness. Without daily worship and listening there is no way to know what direction life should take. Jesus will never lead me (or you) down a path of harm or destruction. There is no need to fear or worry. Jesus suffered and died so that we all may know God. With that much love what is left to fear?
I feel as though I have been living in a fog the past two weeks or so. The last thing I remember was researching and writing about Charles Schultz and the significance of A Charlie Brown Christmas. And now here we are, January 4, 2022. The simple story is that I got sick. Covid test was negative, I only took one; however, the symptoms were very much like a friend of mine who did test positive. In addition to the physical symptoms, I was in a mental fog. I just existed, interacted when needed but basically was not mentally with the program. I felt like I had hit a brick wall, both physically and mentally. Fortunately by Christmas Eve I felt well enough to host my family and then I collapsed for another week. And, that brings us to today.
Onwards Into 2022
I have the well deserved reputation for starting things but never finishing them. Call it short attention span or creativity run amuck, whatever causes this personality trait, I wish there was a vaccine for it that actually worked. Therefore, there are no big resolutions. I don’t need the baggage of failing yet again – said very tongue in cheek. I don’t really feel bad about quitting; I accepted this part of me many years ago and I avoid people who try to make me feel bad.
No, instead of resolutions I have a couple of things that I am calling my Focal Points for this year. No specific tasks or firm goals, just areas of my life to focus my heart, mind and body. We will look back at the end of the year to find how this focus shifts the quality of my life from so-so to rich and full.
Without God nothing makes sense. This is a complicated subject in many ways. My relationship with God is uniquely mine. I have written about my move away from organized religion. But I have not moved away from God, in fact that relationship is stronger than when I depended on an organization for the definition of my relationship. I feel a definite tug on my heart to give back and do more. Now that I know we are staying in this community I want to get involved somewhere – maybe even get to know my neighbors, most of whom are new. There is much I can do to move outside of myself and allow God to work through me. It just requires leaving the house occasionally.
We are all born into a family and then we go into the world and make our own families. These days what is considered a family doesn’t look like it did when I was growing up. Friend circles, blended families, adopted families all fill the need we have to belong.
In June we made room for our oldest granddaughter to live with us. The details aren’t important. She needed a safe place to land and we are that place. In six months she is well on her way to creating her own life and learning what it means to be an adult. It is a joy to watch the transformation. This move caused some stress in other areas, but as the months rolled by, those things began to ease and it all culminated with the best Christmas we have spent together, maybe ever. Our daughter, son-in-law, and other two granddaughters joined the three of us for an evening of laughter, giving, eating and love. It was the perfect ending to a crazy year.
So, this year I will focus on my family – the one I chose. I married a man and received a daughter in the deal. These relationships deserve my time and attention and quite frankly, I love being the mom who sets the stage for family fun. Also, while we have our granddaughter here to care for the house and the dogs, we are going to do some of the traveling we have been unable to do in the past. Our lives together have always been focused on externals – parents, child, grandchildren, ex-spouses, etc. Our life has not been our own, but now it is our time. We have earned this, and will live out the motto, “If not now, when?” Neither of us are getting any older.
We have vacillated for many years on whether this is where we would live forever. I wanted to move; he didn’t. Just when I got him to agree (despite little voices of doubt in my head), we moved heaven and earth to make room for a teenager. Shortly after that I realized that my home is here. I have bargained with God for years to let me live somewhere else. It has only taken me thirty three years to finally decide to settle down and stay put. So, I will now focus on making this house the home I have always wanted.
First comes a new kitchen. Other than new appliances and my attempts at DIY, this kitchen has not seen an upgrade since it was built in 1985. It is time. After the kitchen I will move outdoors. We have a large backyard that has never been used. That is going to change. My goal is less grass and more fun. I want this to be the home our family wants to gather to make more memories.
I come from a long line of creative people and I must have a creative outlet. One day, as I looked at one of my grandmother’s quilts, the name Continuous Threads came to me and I knew I wanted to use it in some way. I saw myself and my desire to repair her quilt as a way to continue her life and story. I got nervous because I knew I didn’t have the skill set yet, so I set it aside. But, this will be the year I will patch, mend and sew to bring this cherished quilt back to life.
It has been a journey of a couple of years, but the vision is beginning to form. For now I am learning all I can about hand stitching and embroidery including reading books about the historical aspects of textiles and their relationship to us and our quality of life. The past seventeen years have been very much wool, hand spinning yarn and knitting focused, but now I am ready for something different. I am ready to create with needle, thread, fabric and assorted found objects that tell a story. I am ready to mend clothes and my grandmother’s quilt. I am ready to weave cloth for uses I haven’t even determined yet. I am ready to learn and share with a younger generation so that these skills continue to be valued and passed to along. Our history matters.
If this subject interests you as well, I have an Instagram account, @continuousthreads as well as Continuous Threads, a separate website and blog for my textile adventures.
Onwards Into The Future
With my new focus this year I am not promising a posting schedule that life can erase in the blink of an eye. I would like to post once a week and have it be an informative and entertaining glimpse into my life. But, truthfully, from now on I write this for my family and a few close friends who care. I want to leave something behind. I have no biological legacy, but I have left a trail of Sheryl everywhere I have been in my life. For the most part I think the trail has been a good one but I’m working very hard to stop over thinking and analyzing. It is a worthless waste of time and emotion.
So, there you have it. Out of the fog of 2021 (how appropriate the year ended in a state of mental fog?) and into the light. It is going to be a good year despite what goes on in the world around us. By staying connected to God and focusing on living a life that is full of loving kindness to all who cross my path I can’t go wrong and the trail I leave in my wake will make the world a better place. What more can we ask for in life?
I’m a clinger. I cling to those I love, the things I love (or think I might use again one day), and I cling to ways of thinking that are no longer productive. Letting go of any of these lifestyle choices is frightening. The “what if” monster starts whispering in my ear and fear of the unknown takes up residence in my brain.
Now, before I go any farther down this rabbit hole, I need to make something quite clear. I have not fallen into the realm of satan and I have not lost my faith. Quite the contrary. During the past few months, as I draw nearer to God and Jesus, I have begun to see and hear, evaluate and either accept or dismiss spiritual concepts that, prior to this, I automatically dismissed because they didn’t fit with my traditional view of God and the world. I was simply unable to ask questions or think anything outside the mainstream; it was too frightening. I had to cling to the belief system as I had come to know it or what else is there?
Then God began doing an amazing work in me. I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe that when I am in tune with God, listening and waiting for Him to guide me, He is right there with me. I read Holy Scripture, meditate on what I read and know that in the fullness of His time, God will reveal his truth to me and increase my understanding. This is just one of the gifts given to us when Jesus came to earth and then died a sacrificial death. We no longer need high priests to mediate for us with God. We can go directly to the source. Thank you Jesus!
The human mind is finite. We can only know and absorb so much before our brains short circuit and we shut down. A discussion this week with a friend about people with brilliant minds who burn out early made me think about this phenomenon. God knows what, how much and when I can handle deeper revelations about Him and the universe He created. God is huge. I always heard, “Don’t put God in a box.” I am now seeing I have lived as if I knew all I needed to know about God because I have studied the Bible. I delved into original languages; I even went to a Bible College so that I would know the truth and be set free. For a while my human arrogance, armed with this knowledge set about to show folks what I knew. It didn’t end well.
Now I take everything I learned and I sit with God and let Him teach me. I pray to Jesus, “teacher, teach me.” I am their sponge. Not amazingly, one by one tiny little scales are falling from my eyes and I am beginning to see things with a deeper field of vision. I am more sensitive to God’s movements in my life and am seeing my life in a brighter light.
I used to dismiss any idea of cosmic energy, energy from so called inanimate objects as new age hoo-haw, aka nonsense in my language. But, like so much in my universe lately, I am rethinking this concept particularly as it applies to the spiritual realm.
While worshipping crystals is clearly pagan idolatry, I look at who created crystals…rocks, stones, dirt, water, air….and think, God made those too. They are part of creation; could they bear some kind energy? Could they be more than the sum total of their molecules? I have no clue. But still, I wonder.
In another conversation with my same friend, he shared a concept from quantum physics that made my head spin. He explained in a way that my brain could grasp. The theory states that what we see doesn’t exist until we look at it. If I stooped to using emojis here I would definitely add both the mind blown and shocked face emojis to express how I felt when I heard this idea. Since I do not have a scientific mind, I found the following quote to be sure I could explain what he was talking about.
Let’s take a look at some interesting quantum experiments that point toward the mind-dependent character of reality… Fundamentally, we’ve got a situation in which reality at the quantum level does not exist until it is observed.
Bruce Gordon, Physicist, Mind Matters Podcast April 20, 2021.
The Energy Of Stuff
I wrote all that simply to say, I think there is energy that exists around objects. The things we cling to or are simply a part of the background noise of our lives – all things possess a certain energy. This is where I know I might loose some of you, but hang in with me.
Yesterday I told the story of the furniture that came to live with us last week. What I didn’t talk about was what I got rid of to make room for that furniture. This is an epic story of clinging to something far too long.
In 1984 (or thereabouts) I purchased a solid oak draw leaf dining room table, two Queen Anne style wing back chairs, and a vintage sewing table. All from approximately 1900-1940. I loved these pieces of furniture. I was married to my first husband who had bought the home we lived in without telling me he was doing it. I bought these pieces of furniture without asking him. Tit for tat. Almost. When I left him about a year and a half later I took these with me. I moved into my first apartment as a single person with just these items and my personal effects. Since that time I have moved them in and out of three different apartments before coming home to Stately Means Manor. Finally, I took them to use in my store before coming back home for good. I thought I loved them. I thought that they were important. Until I watched them loaded onto a truck and taken away to be donated.
I thought I would feel something. I felt nothing.
A few days later I realized that I am different. I am thinking about things in a new and different way. I feel lighter; more focused and free. Could it be that the negative energy from an unhappy marriage has been sitting in my home and my business all these years? I never thought about them in terms of the relationship. I saw them as tangible evidence of me taking a stand and doing something on my own. In truth, I outgrew them. I am finally allowing myself to be who I was created to be. I breaking free of being the person I think I should be and becoming just me. Letting go of the things and any energy connected with them has opened a new window into my soul and there is light shining both in and radiating out of me.
I have way more stuff to let go of and now I feel equipped and emboldened to do it. Things, whose very presence in my life, weigh me down. Things that a few months ago I thought I couldn’t live without. I am ready for them to find new homes. As Marie Kondo espouses in her theories of organization and possession – I ask myself, “Does this spark joy?” I now have a true frame of reference to determine joy vs comfortable. Do I keep these things because they are familiar and comfortable or because they bring joy into my life? Do they represent the life I want to create or are they part of a past that should remain in the past?
All this is a process, a journey that each of us walks in a different way and for different reasons. Some of you will resonate with my experience and others of you will think I have lost my ever-loving mind. And that is fine. It could be a little of each, but this is my path and all I see ahead of me is the soft glow of God’s love and light drawing me forward.
I’m still thinking about my life’s purpose and the path I should be taking during this season of my life. Since history is the best predictor of the future, I decided to look back and see where my life has been and where I should be looking in the future. As I analyzed all the things I have done, both consciously and unconsciously, one thread has continuously run through all the fabric of my life. That thread is children.
All Paths Are Personal
I never bore children of my own. The only profound regret of my life is that I never experienced the growing, delivering and raising a child of my own flesh and blood. Once it became biologically impossible the pain of this diminished and I was able to look back at my life and really see how God had given me hundreds of children. Granted none of them bore any resemblance to me, nor was I responsible for their well-being and life; however, I was given a chance to make a difference. The ripple effects of these relationships will continue to grow and affect the next generations. That is a powerful path.
Working at a school was the highlight of my working life. Both as a nurse and an assistant teacher I had the privilege of nurturing and encouraging children for ten years. I had always wanted to be a teacher and no other job fulfilled me like this one.
I left the working world to come home and be present in when our daughter was going through a particularly difficult time in her life. I was needed here to make a difference in her life far more than the kids at school needed me. The purpose was the same, the intended beneficiary had changed.
Next came our first granddaughter. Born to a single mom, lost and struggling as her own mother had died when she was sixteen (I am her stepmom). I now had two girls who needed me. My purpose continues.
Two more granddaughters come along; a marriage doesn’t work out and suddenly our empty nest is full again. The joy of a full house is indescribable. I loved the activity and purpose it brought to my life. Cooking for and helping with the girls brought so much joy. And then it was time for them to move on.
So, that brings us to today. Just when we thought we were done. Ready to live the retired life and wondering what we would do with this time on our hands, our first granddaughter — the one who changed everything for us — was in a crisis. So many experiences in such a short life left her in a rough patch. Her mom and stepdad were at wits end and they have two other girls to care for. We opened our home and brought her back to the place that was her first home. The past few months have been difficult but the growth and change are remarkable and she is well on her way to being the adult we dreamed she would be. Again…I (we) continue on the path.
Little Picture Living
I don’t always see what I do everyday as part of the bigger picture of life. I never had the “I’m going to change the world” mentality; never been the activist, or the person who wanted to accomplish big things. My goals were always about creating a home and family. I have written before about my one passion and that is children. I set out to care for children in my working life and I spent the vast majority of my career doing just that. But even that didn’t trigger any “bigger picture” views of myself. I just got up everyday and did what I was trained to do.
I think God protects me from thinking of myself in a grand kind of way. I am just an ordinary person who tries to be kind and do what is right. If I saw myself as some kind of saint I know it would go right to my head and all the good I could do would be wasted. The irony of all this is I spend so much time wondering what I am “supposed” to be doing with my life, when in fact I was doing exactly what God designed me to do all along.
I think because so much of what I have done just falls under the banner of you do what you gotta do. In the midst of the fire you don’t stop to analyze the fire, you just put it out. I have been on my path for all forty years of my adult life. During that time I never gave myself credit for doing anything to make a difference because I just looked at the big stuff. I never did anything big. I just left a crumb trail of lots of little things. Because what I did wasn’t traditional or I wasn’t the “teacher” I wanted to be, I only saw what I wasn’t not who I was.
One Path, Small Detours
I don’t want to leave the path, I’m just ready for it to look a little different. I want to use my talents and skills to improve the lives of another generation of children. I have always dreamed of writing books. I could write a picture book for emerging readers. I would love to write the kind of story that encourages children to be the best they can be, or tell a fabulous tale that is remembered forever. Maybe it should be a book for the adults on blended families and lessons we have learned through the years. Maybe I will volunteer with disadvantaged kids and help them with school work. After all I did want to be a teacher. That urge is still inside of me. I don’t know where I am going next, but I do know that my path to the destination is sure and I have history on my side.
Wherever you are in life, do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do, rather look at what you are doing and know you are doing your best. If, like me, you feel a nudge towards something, a tug at your heart, pay attention. God might be preparing you and showing you your path. If the time is right and you can do something about the nudge, then do it. If you aren’t able, just be aware and know that one day in some way, your path will become known and you can follow in confidence.