Welcome!

Ever since watching Julie & Julia, I have wanted to write a daily blog. The problem was I couldn’t think of anything to write about. And then a friend suggested to write about what inspires me that day. While it still sounds daunting to find something each and every day that seems worthy of my time or yours, I accepted the challenge. So far, it is forcing me to look at my life and world through a new lens. It is pushing me to think bigger. It is squelching the side of me that looks at the glass as half empty.

I hope it does the same for you.

  • The Election Day We’ve Been Waiting For

    Happy election day to all. I don’t know about you, but I will be happy to have this election behind us. My post today discusses my feelings about elections and the role of government. Don’t worry, it isn’t going to make your head hurt, but I hope it will make you think about your role in this society.

    I am trying to figure out how to get a signup form on my new blog. Until then I will keep posting the link here. Thanks for your patience.

    Peace & Love,

    Sheryl

  • I’ve Moved: Please Visit

    Just as I hit my stride blogging here I up and decide to move! It is SO me.

    A new name deserves a new look. With the focus change to my inspired life, and encouraging you to live your inspired life, I wanted to be able to offer more features and an aesthetic that matches my goals. There is a learning curve to the new format. Rather than waiting to get all the learning done, I decided to get the basics done and then start writing.

    I know I will loose some of you in the transition, but I hope you give it a try and follow me over to Sheryl Inspired and sign up to follow me there. Here is a snippet from today’s post. Click on the link to read the full post.

    Sheryl…Inspired: Same Me, New Address

    By sherylmeans

    Change is Good

    Why the change? When the focus of the blog transitioned to daily inspiration the previous format just didn’t fit any longer. I will be working to migrate all my old posts here so that anyone who finds me from this point forward will be able to go back and catch up.

    Small Still Voice

    The original purpose for Small Still Voice was to chronicle my study of the words of Jesus. And while that will still be a part of this blog, I believe the title change and the broader subject matter will provide me with years of things to say. My faith shapes my world view, thus everything I write will come from that perspective.

    The other factor with the previous approach is that I am NOT a Biblical scholar. I know that I don’t have to be a scholar to talk about what Jesus means to me or what has been ascribed as his words. I began to feel I wandered of my designated path and was fighting through the trees and underbrush to once again find my way. I was working way too hard to make a point; it was not inspired writing. God has something different for me to do in the public realm.

    I will continue posting links to the new site for a while. I want to give as many of you as possible the chance to find me before I go silent here.

    Until next time, peace & love,

    Sheryl

  • Inspired By Houston

    I am a chronic dreamer. For the past several years I have pined away about where I live. Each time I visit a new and scenic locale, I want to move. This sickness took hold of me and has ruled my life. Seeds of dissatisfaction were sown and all I could think about was what I didn’t have. Then, just as I worked to adjust my attitude, we would go someplace new and the cycle begins again.

    Two weeks ago we were in Arkansas looking at property for just such a move. Several days into it I tapped my husband on the shoulder in the middle of the night and said, “Would you be mad if I said I wanted to stay at 2434?” Bleary eyed and confused, he said no and went back to sleep.

    We spent days in beautiful locations and could envision this new life; however, in the stillness of the night, that small, still voice reminded of what I have rather than what I am missing.

    Houston

    Ask most people outside of Houston to give you a one word description of the fourth largest city in the United States and you will likely get answers such as, hot, humid, traffic, crowded, crime, more traffic, but then at the bottom of the list might be food, friendly people, and even more traffic. As of November 1, 2022 I have called the metro Houston area home for the past forty-three years. Despite dreams of moving somewhere with better weather and less traffic, I’m still here. Why? I’m not sure, but I am starting to get used to the idea that this is home.

    June 1976

    I graduated from high school on June 11, 1976 and within a week had boarded a plane bound for Houston. I was to spend the summer with my best friend in a suburb of Houston called Friendswood.

    She and I had both lived in Harlingen, a town in the deep south Texas region known as The Lower Rio Grande Valley. After our sophmore year of high school, my parents decided to move back to California and her dad accepted a transfer to Houston. That last night before we left, she and I drove around in her car, cruising through Sonic among other hang out spots; we drove past homes of boys we thought were cute, all while listening to the radio, laughing, and finally and crying as we said goodbye.

    We spent two years writing letters with only an occasional phone call to bridge the gap. This, after all, was in the days before computers, cell phones or the internet. Long distance phone calls were expensive leaving us to pour out our lives out to one another in letters that were several pages long. It was a different time…in many ways a sweeter time. I miss hand written letters.

    I left California on a Continental jet from Los Angeles International Airport – LAX for short, and landed some three hours later at Houston Intercontinental Airport, now known as Bush Intercontinental. I looked out the window during takeoff and all I saw was buildings, concrete, freeways and cars. To me, this was a normal sight. Most of the lush greenery, orange groves, and other forms of natural beauty had long since succumbed to development. What I saw on approach to Houston was green. Green as far as the eye could see. I was absolutely enchanted. At that time the land around the airport in Houston was undeveloped heavily treed land. I thought I had landed in a magical forest.

    When Kay and two of her friends greeted me at the gate, the first thing I gushed was “This place is so green!” She and her friends laughed, but I didn’t care; I was on my first grown up adventure and like Mary Tyler Moore, nothing was going to stop me now!

    The rest of the details of the summer are inconsequential to my story about Houston. When I returned home in August, I had a Reader’s Digest article about Houston becoming the largest city in the country by the year 2000. It cited the oil industry, space program, the medical center among other economic factors as the reason for their prediction. I can still see my family walking through the long tiled hallway from the gate to the exit telling my them they were “lucky I came home” and that I was going live in Houston one day. Ahhh, the arrogance and attitude of eighteen year olds who have just tasted a bit of freedom. Never once did it dawn on me to be happy to see my family.

    Three Years and Three Months Later

    On November 1, 1979, my ex-husband and I left Brownsville, Texas and pulled into an apartment in a part of Houston known as Champions Village. An elite master planned community in far north Houston, we were surrounded by trees. I had arrived back to the Houston I had fallen in love with.

    In the years since then I have lived in nearly every corner of the city. I am not sure whether Houston rubbed off on me or I was divinely inspired to live in this city because we are very similar.

    Despite the bad publicity, Houston is a friendly and welcoming city. It is the most racially and ethnically diverse city in the country. Cost of living, an abundance of housing and job opportunities make this a very good city to live in. Houston’s identity is closely intertwined the identities of people from other cultures. We have always been a place where everyone can maintain their cultural heritage while being members of a larger group of Texan/Americans. We are a blue collar town. Folks work hard and they play hard. We may not be as sophisticated as that other big city to the north, but we will feed you, care for you and extend the hand of friendship. There is a sophisticated side to Houston as well. From theater to symphony and opera, museums, many colleges and universities, art galleries, and it has become known among foodies as must visit town.

    I want to think that Houston has brought out the best in me. Living here has helped me see the plight of others in a way I never did in California. I learned tolerance and became curious about things that seemed foreign to me. I matured here. I came as a twenty-one year old naive young woman in an unhappy marriage. Living here brought people and experiences into my life which allowed me to grow and become someone who could stand up for herself; I found strength and determination where there was none. When the time was right, I remarried and built a life with a man who loves me despite the grimy, messy parts. My daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren are all here. I have a life here that matters. I’m friendly, creative, kind, and like to think I make room for everyone…just like Houston.

    So, despite the traffic and the hot humid weather we endure six months out of the year, I am inspired by Houston. Houston is home.

    Peace & Love,

    Sheryl

  • The Folly of Fitting In

    I have felt like an outsider for most of my life.

    Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

    This picture, taken from the vantage point of an onlooker, is how I felt for much of my life. Always an observer. Forever on the outside looking in. I desperately wanted to be one of those girls, arms wrapped around each other, laughing and having fun together. I was never invited.

    Most people who know me think my self image is silly at best and possibly crazy. I’ve been told that my self perception is wrong, that I don’t really know myself, or that I have low self esteem. For years I assumed everyone else knew better. Then I got mad. Why would someone outside my head know me better than I know myself? The truth is I see things differently than most anyone else I know; therefore, I see myself as different. I am different. And so are you.

    The thing about me that has separated me from many others, particularly my family, is my spiritual nature and my relationship with God. I was not raised in a family that went to church together every week. God was not discussed. It wasn’t a matter of belief as much as practice. My parents had not had a religious upbringing, so neither did my brother and I. Mom took us to church sometimes; she would take us and some friends to Sunday School then come back to pick us up. Finally, as we grew older we simply fell out of the practice.

    I began going to church with friends and neighbors. I would walk down the street to attend the little nondenominational church in our neighborhood. Sometimes mom would come with me, but I felt an urge to be near God and this is where I thought He lived. So I went.

    Fast forward to my fifth and sixth decades of life. Some days I don’t think I’ve learned anything; other days I stand in awe of all that God has done and is doing with me. This morning I had such a moment. It was a burning bush moment.

    I picked up a devotional book that I haven’t touched in months, “Yes, And…” by Fr. Richard Rohr is a collection of meditations that move my heart, mind and soul. It always astounds me when I just open a book or the Bible and what I read speaks directly to what is happening in my life. It is a frequent enough occurrence that I have to believe God is enlightening me to something important.

    You do not think yourself into a new way of living as much as you live your way into a new way of thinking.

    Fr. Richard Rohr, Yes, And….

    This one sentence stopped me cold. I had to read and reread it. Allow it to penetrate beyond the logical mind and into my soul. I sat quietly and allowed experiences and thoughts to flood back into my conscious mind. Images, of what have always felt like the tattered pieces of a life that had no direction, slowly came into focus. Thoughts from long ago returned accompanied by the late night whispers that our home is where we are to be and to invest in our community.

    In a society that values decisiveness and action, God wants us to be still and listen. We are to watch and wait and live. Do the day in and day out stuff that seems mundane, but always do it with a sense of anticipation. We never know when God is ready to move in our hearts and minds towards something greater than we could have ever expected.

    Do I fit in? Nope. Not on earth and certainly not in the world we currently live in. Do I care anymore? Nope! I am here because God has more work for me to do and my plan is to allow him to do what is necessary and enjoy the ride.

    Peace and Love,

    Sheryl

  • Family

    I am not biologically related to these people, but their family and cookbook connect me to a part of my heritage that I am unable to fully access. Tracing a family tree from the last years of nineteenth century China is not an easy task. Language, documentation and a host of other issues makes it difficult even with today’s technology.

    I’ve provided a link to the Leung family’s website. Click on their photo to read about them and their culinary heritage.

    I have very few tangible things that connect me to my father’s side of the family. His mother’s family immigrated from Guangdong, China in the late 1890s. His grandfather came first and then his grandmother. The only date I have to begin documenting their life in Hawaii is their marriage in 1894. What I do know seems mysterious and romantic. In fact, they most likely worked long, hard hours and did their best to raise their children. By 1926, my grandmother, her sister and her mother had all died. The two sisters both died from tuberculosis and their mother drowned under mysterious circumstances that was later ruled a suicide.

    I wonder about their life. Did they maintain their Chinese language and traditions? How much of the Hawaiian culture crossed over and affected them. What did they eat? Food is such an important part of family heritage. We gather around food and celebrate the connection we have. New people come into our life and those traditions change and new things get added to the family cookbook. What kinds of meals would have been passed along from Nellie to my dad and then to my generation? I suspect that inside the home lived a very traditional Chinese family of the time. I envision them speaking in their native tongue, cooking and eating the food from their home. Outside, in the changing world following WWI, they were business people contributing working long hard hours learning to function in a new society.

    I don’t know what kind of work my great grandfather did, but I have found links to their address which was a souvenir shop in the Punchbowl area of Honolulu. I also know that my grandmother worked at this shop. Maybe that is where she met my grandfather?

    This is one of a very few cherished pictures of my grandmother. In this one she is sitting on a motor bike on a country road in what looks like a school uniform. She might have been around ten years old, maybe older. I pictured her as having to work in a family business at that age, but it seems she received some education.

    I also have pictures of her as an older teenager posing with men. She wrote in a photo album that she showed one of them around Honolulu. I’m not sure exactly what that means and if was a friend or if this was some sort of paid arrangement. I simply have no idea what kind of person Nellie Liu Perkins was and what she would think of who her son became…and of me and my brother. And, since there is no evidence, I get to make her story, our story, whatever I want it to be.

    My grandfather was in the Army, stationed at Schofield barracks north of Honolulu. How did they meet? Did they “date” or “court” in anyway? How long did they know each other? What did her parents think of her marrying a “haole” (a slang, and now derogatory term for someone who is not native Hawaiian; generally applied to white or European people)? I think the fact that they were not listed in a newspaper story of the wedding could be a clue. Or, were the two witnesses simply the only ones listed in the article. I will never know.

    I often thought she might have been pregnant with my dad and the marriage was forced. I used it as an excuse for my grandfather never talking to his son about his mother. I believed that could have been the reason grandparents were not involved in their grandchild’s life. My father and grandfather lived in Hawaii for thirteen additional years before coming to the mainland. Research on Ancestry proved this theory to be wrong. The date of their marriage was one full year prior to my father’s birth. As an adult, my dad went in search of one of his uncles. I don’t think he every made contact. I don’t know that he every really knew any of his biological family. Such a tragedy for all concerned.

    So many questions and no one to ask. My grandfather never talked about Nellie to my dad. Communication was never a strong suit of either man. I asked dad, as my mother had before me and all he said was that he really didn’t know anything about her. Fortunately, before my grandfather died, I asked my him some of the questions. We weren’t close, so this took a great deal of courage on my part. This conversation, which took place approximately sixty years after Nellie’s death, was as difficult for my grandfather as it was for me. At twenty six my grandfather suddenly became a single father to a one year old son. With no family support and in a time where men were not seen as nurtures or care givers, I have a feeling that my dad was on his own for most of his life. Grandpa didn’t have any answers. He said he had forgotten most everything. I was too young to ask the right questions. I asked for information on her family and their life. I should have asked, “What kind of person was she?” “Why did you want to marry her?” “What made her laugh?” “What is one thing you have always remembered about her?” He may not have been willing or able to answer those questions either. I accepted that he locked all of this part of his life away in a box, buried it, and threw away the key. That generation didn’t wallow in emotions. They survived. Life was different. Attitudes towards children were different.

    I want to romanticize their relationship and attribute his distant, nearly nonexistent parenting to grief. A more likely answer is that a young man, free wheeling and single one year found himself with a newborn baby and a wife in a tuberculosis hospital the next. Experiences like this change a person. Knowing my dad, and his similarity to his father, I think everyone just dug in to survive. We all have wounds and baggage. Some of those things make us stronger and better; other times they beat us down until there is no tenderness left to share. I think, at that moment in time, that was my grandfather.

  • Squirrelly

    According Collins Dictionary, the urban use of the term squirrelly is an informal term meaning very nervous, sensitive, strange, or unpredictable.

    Squirrels are fairly low on the food chain, so their sensitive, nervous and unpredictable behavior is key to remaining alive. So, while the above description may sound negative, I find them endearingly cute (I’ve always been drawn to the rodent family) and an inspiration.

    This morning I watched a young squirrel scamper across my fence, down the post into the grass. I didn’t watch him/her in the grass but my cat was alert to its movements. Shortly, it ran back up the fence post carrying something in its mouth and escaped to the tree in my neighbor’s yard. It was then I remembered something amazing I learned from watching a documentary about these furry little rodents.

    They bury one nut per 2-inch deep hole, and cover it back up discreetly.

    When the leaves fall from the trees, in the dead of winter, they can remember the location of all these buried treasures, and dig them up, even through feet of snow.

    But how is it possible for an animal with a brain the size of a walnut to actually remember where they buried all their walnuts?

    Their hippo campus, which is a brain structure critical for memory, appears to change by season, developing more neuron activity, and even expanding in size in the fall, when the job of caching is due to begin.

    Animal Facts Encyclopedia

    Learning from Squirrels

    So, in modern terminology, squirrels are hardwired to know how to find the nuts left the previous year. I find that simply amazing.

    We are all hardwired in different ways. Everyone has innate qualities and abilities that are unique and have a purpose. I believe God has created each of us with a skill set, that when discovered and used, makes the world a better place to live.

    We tend to take our own gifts for granted. How many times have I thought, “What comes easily to me must not be special; surely everyone can do this.” The truth is, if this were the case none of us would be special because we would all be good at the same things. It is precisely because we have different wiring that it is so important to value not only what we are good at but find and extol those things in others. If everyone kept their gifts to themselves I would not be writing this post on a fabulous computer, or cooking in an air fryer. Some genius person used their gifts to make life a little easier and more fun.

    Let your light shine while you help someone else shine as well.

    Peace & Love,

    Sheryl

  • Radical Love

    What is radical love? In looking for an image to illustrate my thoughts, I typed in the word “sacrifice.” This image of Jesus on the cross is the first choice. Is there, a more perfect example of radical love than to lay down one’s life on behalf of others? If there is, I can’t think of one.

    I am having a hard time living in the world as it exists today. It isn’t just the political turmoil or the rapidly changing social dynamics, though both of those things play a role in my discontent.

    I don’t do external conflict. I don’t argue, discuss, or debate. I turn inward. Thoughts roll around in my head like rocks in a tumbler. I want the edges to smooth out and the surface to become all shiny and pretty, but that is never the outcome. It always seems as though no matter how much I ruminate on a particular topic I fail to come to an adequate solution or even a soap box to stand on. Surely I am not alone.

    And then I remember the one. The one who came to earth as a baby and as a man died to pay the price for all humanity. What would Jesus do and say at a moment like this?

    The denomination I have belonged to my entire life is in the throws of a split. There are two issues that divide our country and our churches – abortion and homosexuality. No matter how hard I try, I do not see evidence of Jesus’ radical love involved with either of these situations. In Jesus’ earthly life he was surrounded by “holier than thou” religious leaders that condemned others while elevating themselves. How are we any different?

    Who needs the radical love of Jesus anymore than a young woman facing an absolutely gut wrenching decision? Do I belong in a church that condemns rather than loves?

    How about the gay man or lesbian woman who has been rejected by family and been told God doesn’t love them because they are homosexual?

    I believe we are called to love like Jesus and leave the rest to God. Somewhere along the line it feels to me as though knowledge and logic eclipsed love and compassion. Dissecting the Bible to the point where the student feels superior has naturally led to being just like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. I have participated in that kind of study. I know I have thought myself superior in knowledge therefore it was my duty to educate others. I have begged forgiveness and received mercy and grace.

    Today, I choose to see the holiness of God in each person that crosses my path. Even if their light is dim, they are still his creation and deserving of kindness.

    I want to exhibit radical love as Jesus taught his followers to do.

    Today I pray for the courage to be who God created me to be in all situations, not for my good but to point the way back to Him.

    Love and Peace,

    Sheryl

  • Heaven Is A State Of Mind

    We just returned from a seven day trip to Arkansas. The purpose of the trip was to see fall color that is nonexistent where we live. The Ozark Mountains are closer that any other location where the changing of the leaves and the cool, crisp weather are almost guaranteed in October. There was also a secondary purpose. Ever since my brother’s wedding in Arkansas, we have toyed with the idea of living there. Lakes for fishing, trails for hiking, a slow pace of life in a state where the entire population is smaller than the metro area where we currently live.

    As often happens when one sets their sights on something of this magnitude, disappointment is often just around the corner. Most of the southern United States suffered from a drought this past summer; this lack of water had a negative impact on the trees, thus fall color was not as expected. Beautiful, but not quite a match for my vivid imagination.

    I tend to fall in love with virtually every new place I visit and then imagine what a life there could look like. Inevitably this leads to dissatisfaction with where I do live and that path is never a happy one. We decided to go back to Arkansas just to see if the reality matched the memory. Some of it did, other parts did not.

    I have learned that upon a second, or third, visit to my fantasy home, without my rose colored glasses, I am able to see clearly what these new locations all have in common. None of them are perfect. None of them offer anything different than what I have here, except the landscapes are all pretty. And, in fact, this time that small still voice came to me in the middle of the night to remind me what I would be leaving behind if we were to move.

    I always snap out of the funk. I resign myself to life in the hot, humid and rather unattractive place I have lived for forty three years. I choose a life where my family is close at hand. I choose a life where I have made memories which sustain and delight me. I choose to trust the voice that comes to me when I am at rest and receptive. That voice never leads me astray.

    Image from @writtentospeak on Instagram.

    This morning when I read this quote, I knew God was comforting me in my human disappointment. Arkansas will always be a place we go for the soul nourishment of natural beauty. Once refreshed, we will come home to continue with the life we have been given.

    Peace & Love,

    Sheryl

  • Rainy Day Magic

    I am a pluviofile.

    For as long as I can remember I have loved cloudy, rainy days. Even as a child, I never felt cheated because it rained during PE or recess time. On the contrary, I quietly rejoiced because it meant indoor activities such as drawing, coloring, a filmstrip, or reading time. Worst case scenario, the teacher would make us play an indoor game such as Seven Up; even this was infinitely better than PE or recess.

    I have also lived my entire life in climates where sunshine is far more prevalent than clouds and rain. Born in Las Vegas, I grew up in both southern California and deep south Texas. Glaring hot sun against vivid blue skies was the norm. As a kid I did not make the connection between rainy days and mental/emotional rest. I just knew it meant I didn’t have to do sports or navigate the social pressure of the playground.

    Thus, cloudy rainy days represent rest, a break from the oppressive heat and glare of the sun. On days like this I feel as though I have cosmic permission to be lazy, sit on my couch watch television and crochet on my latest project. It absolutely NEVER crosses my mind to do housework or other chores on rainy days. Why would I work on a day of rest? That makes no more sense than turning down a gift or saying no to dessert.

    So, I don’t know what you will be doing today, but the sky is overcast and rain is forecast…you know where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing.

    Peace and Love,

    Sheryl

  • Take It With You

    We are so busy accumulating possessions that the storage business is BIG business. Even amid the minimalism movement, we still buy, store and buy some more. Don’t get me wrong, I love my stuff like everyone else. I particularly love my electronic devices, books as well as art and needlework supplies. The daily use of these things give me pleasure. But are they necessary? No. But they sure make life more fun.

    Steaming hot coffee is one of my favorite things.

    I am writing this blog post from a booth at a breakfast restaurant. Thanks to technology I can take a Bible with me everywhere I go. An app for my blogging platform allows me to snap a picture and write whenever the spirit moves me. This is a wonderful thing. I never know when God is going to move my heart and I don’t have to risk forgetting; I can share anytime, anywhere.

    I know that God is with me always…but now I can spontaneously share where He leads and what He is teaching…and so can you!

    Peace & Love,

    Sheryl