Love Walked Among Us

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” ~John 3:16

It really is so simple yet so profound. Jesus, for thirty-three years lived on earth – God in human skin. He lived to show the world what it means to live a life that is pleasing to God. In return we are asked to do one thing, believe he is who he says he is.

Humans have made it complicated. Humans put rules and regulations in place. To belong you must….and the list begins. Jesus simply said, “Believe.” Put your faith and trust in Him. That is it. You ask, He answers. When we trust Jesus with our lives, our very existence, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are reborn and God’s Holy Spirit resides in us to guide and teach us. It is a living miracle.

Jesus came to do a specific job. Everywhere he walked people knew he was different. I think that’s what we are all supposed to do. We don’t have to knock on doors or preach on street corners. We just have to live a light-filled life. And when someone asks, we can tell them, “It is Jesus.”

~Blessings…Sheryl

Looking Backwards, Moving 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.

My Three Step Program

For the first time in my nearly sixty-four years I don’t have anything to worry about. I have a happy marriage, stable and thriving child and grandchildren, a roof over my head, enough money to meet and even exceed my needs, all extended family are healthy and happy, in short, I want for nothing. I am blessed beyond measure.

And yet I am constantly seeking that one thing to do that will give purpose and meaning to life. This usually takes the form of a maker type business. I am a talented human being and have everything it takes, including small business experience, to succeed in such an endeavor. So why do I struggle?

Living In Fear

I don’t know any other way to explain my feelings and inability to follow through. I get excited. I come up with a concept, product, logo, website, social media marketing, and then it comes time to put my work out into the world and I freeze. The feeling is very uncomfortable so I tell myself I am simply not cut out to do this. So I stop. And I feel like a failure. This cycle has repeated itself over and over again for many years leaving a trail of broken promises and an inflated sense of failure. I know this is not how God wants me, or you, to live. So, what is the answer? Here is my three step plan of attack.

Step 1: Trust God…Do Not Fear

I think I read somewhere that the admonition to “not fear” is the most used often used in the Bible. God knows us all too well. I am considering having the word trust literally tattooed on my body. God equipped me with skills and abilities to use in this lifetime. I have tried too hard to make things work on my own. I need to relax and just do what I am capable of doing then letting go. I believe I am finally coming full circle and can see fewer dead ends on my life’s road.

Step 2: Identification

Before something can be fixed it must be identified. I assumed I was on the wrong path because I felt anxious that my work would not be good enough or that no one would want to buy what I make. This was a signal to stop and look for a different path; but all paths ended the same and the desire to do this has never left me. Maybe I was changing the wrong thing?

I am notorious for trying to create a life that will fit nicely into pretty little boxes. Life is not to be viewed as a box to fill but a road to travel. Each experience leads to something new and everything builds on previous experience. Instead of a winding road with the usual twists and turns, hills and valleys, I have allowed my road to be a series of dead end detours. I see something interesting and I veer off only find a dead end. At each dead end (aka whatever craft I am passionate about at the moment or whatever product I think I could spend the rest of my life making) I tend to throw my hands in the air and give up. My instinct is to get rid of all the supplies and declare that endeavor as dead. This rarely ends well as I usually decide I still want to resume doing whatever it is I have abandoned. The internal message is that I am a failure incapable of following through and doing what I dreamed of doing.

In fact, what I did was give into that negative voice and stop before I gave myself a chance to get started. Self-sabotage happens every time I listen to the wrong voices in my head. I am currently in the beginning stages of starting yet again. This time I am not trying to fill a niche in the market I am simply going to make the things I love to make and would use in my home. I am also honoring the historic roll of textiles and fiber in women’s lives. I am fascinated by how women’s roles have changed and how modern women honor the contribution of our ancestors by keeping these skills alive. I am excited to make things, research, learn and write about what excites me. I know that no matter what else happens I will be making a contribution to something I care about.

Step 3: Be Authentic

I am a jack of all trades but can never be monogamous to just one pursuit. This is usually where I fail. I try to be known as…a hand spinner of unique yarn, a crochet artist, a crochet historian, a weaver, a stitch artist, and the list could go on but I won’t bore you.

My authentic self loves old tools, old ways, and doing lots of different things. Why I ever thought that sticking my very round peg into a square hole was a good idea is beyond understanding. I love history and knowing I am continuing doing things the way they have been done for hundreds of years. The methods are old, the end result is modern. Gotta love the dichotomy.

The other authentic part of me is my love for writing. I write here about life and as my new site gets going I will be writing about the historical and modern aspects of needle and hand work as it applies to the lives of women. That is a win-win in my book.

You’ve Got This

No matter what your heart is calling you to do, you can do it! Be careful who or what you listen to, pay attention to what tugs at your heart, and do not fear. You’ve got this!

Escape To The Woods

The Inner Voices

As the day grew nearer, I began to experience some very familiar sensations and thoughts. Questions began to pop into my head in the most unexpected times and places.

“Are you sure?”

“What if you need something or someone?”

“You don’t know who else is going to be around…if anyone.”

“You’ll be a woman alone. You will be vulnerable.”

Fortunately I have come to recognize all those inner voices as my brain’s way of working through the anxiety of doing something new. I had planned for this getaway and looked forward to what it might reveal. I have traveled alone many times, and have come to enjoy being by myself in public places. I can absorb the environment without care or concern for someone else. It is very freeing. This felt different; I was going to be alone in the woods. There are just too many movies about the bad stuff that can happen to a woman alone in the woods for me to enter unguarded. So I took Maggie with me. At least I knew that no one would sneak up on me with her around. She is my emergency alert system.

You Are Not Alone

As is normally the case, my fears were unfounded and I was in good company. There are forty six cabins on this property but because of how they are arranged, and the sanctity of quiet, it is hard to know there are other people a few feet away. I had the benefits of seclusion with the knowledge that help, should I need it, is a phone call away. Each cabin is equipped with a red phone through which visitors can contact someone for help. As I type this I wish I were back there right now. I can still see and feel everything.

It didn’t take Maggie long to feel at home.

After unpacking, storing my food and feeding Maggie, we went on our first walk. It was Wednesday. Middle of the week and just a smattering of campers were spending their hump day in the woods. The smell of camp fires filled the fall air making the whole experience complete. I knew I would not trust myself to build a fire, so enjoying the aroma of my neighbors was as close as I would come. I inhaled deeply and kept walking.

Throughout the trip I chose to take no pictures on my walks. I was determined to really see and experience what was in front of me without trying to capture an image. The image now lives in my head. As I walked I allowed my thoughts to become a descriptive narrative of what I was seeing and feeling. It is an amazing game to play to try and describe with words the magnificence of nature. Words, like images, can never do justice to the reality.

Eventide

Darkness comes early in the forest. Forest darkness is not like suburban darkness. This is the ‘can’t see my hand in front of my face’ darkness. Maggie and I retreated inside as the day had been warm and the mosquitoes were coming out for a snack; I, too, was getting hungry.

Having cooked my food at home I just had to heat and eat. I opened my bottle of wine, warmed my food and sat in bed to eat. What a delicious way to live.

Did I say there is no television nor WiFi in these cabins? The goal is to disconnect. I took this seriously. I left my iPad at home. I did not download anything to watch. I had music, but even that seemed out of place. Rather, I chose the silence of solitude.

Once dinner was consumed and the dishes done, I settled in to read. I brought my Kindle because I knew I could read in little to no light with it and the e-ink system allows me to feel as though I was not breaking the no technology code I had set for myself.

In this degree of quiet, every single thing makes a sound. The breeze floating through the trees caused something, possibly a pine cone, to drop onto the roof of the cabin. I jumped. What was out there? Maggie didn’t react so I assumed it was nothing. I continued to read until I couldn’t keep my eyes open a moment longer.

Time For Sleep

I never sleep well the first night in a new place. This was no exception. I moved in and out of consciousness vaguely aware of my surroundings when I heard a rustling sound. I didn’t have to freeze as I was already still. I kept listening and wondering what in the world was making that noise. It was coming from inside the cabin and very close to where we were laying. Once again, Maggie did not react so it couldn’t be too serious, and yet the curiosity was causing my imagination to create some version of the Graboids from Tremors. Was it possible that a worm like creature with gnashing teeth had hidden in the cabin just waiting for the opportune time to attack? I summoned what little bravery I possess I turned on the flashlight on my phone to investigate.

At first I didn’t see anything unusual. I looked on the bed platform near the window where I discovered, not quite a Graboid, but nearly as disgusting, a two inch flying roach. The rustling sound had come from it crawling around, under or through a pile of plastic grocery bags I had put on the side of the platform. I am in the woods surrounded by pine trees; I was not surprised by my visitor. I lived in Texas long enough to know where it came from and that it was no more enamored of me than I was of it.

Weighing all options, I knew the roach was not going to eat me alive or inject me with venom, I turned out the light to try and sleep. I would deal with it in the morning. However, as soon as I closed my eyes I envisioned it crawling across my face during the night. I either had to get rid of it or stay up all night. I chose annihilation.

This time, when I turned on my flashlight, it had crawled up the corner of the walls. I waited. Soon it moved onto the window shade; my opportunity had arrived. I rolled up some papers and slowly moved toward the window. I didn’t want to scare it back into the corner. I took aim and gave it everything I had. Whack! The sound of the paper hitting the blind caused Maggie to jump from the bed in fear for her life. I think I may have closed my eyes because when I looked the roach was gone. I looked between the bed and the wall. No roach. No roach anywhere I could see. I must have just stunned it and I hoped that was enough to keep it far away from me for the rest of the night.

Holding my phone close I finally fell asleep. When we woke the next morning I looked in Maggie’s water bowl, and there floating motionless, was the roach invader. Maggie looked at it then at me. I think she wanted a drink but wasn’t going near this creature. I carefully picked up the bowl and dumped it outside the door and filled it with fresh water. Now it was time for coffee and breakfast. A beautiful new day was waiting to be discovered.

Lessons Learned

After spending so long at home it is easy to become anxious of everything beyond the front door. I don’t work. I leave home to go to the grocery store and out to eat once a week. I love being home but there is a side effect to my lifestyle mixed with my natural introverted socially anxious nature; my world has become very small. This adventure reminded me of truths I used to know and live by; I am capable to do most anything I set my mind to doing. I can go into the world, try new things and face my anxieties head on and emerge a better version of myself.

I need to do this more often. Take a couple of days and just go somewhere and have new experiences. I think I should go to public places as well; find ways to be around more people then retreat back home where I am always safe and secure.

Morning Rituals

I see people on social media going through their morning rituals and wonder…why can’t I get it together? My mornings are never as thoughtful and beautiful as theirs seem to be. But then again I am not staging my morning ritual for the sake of the camera. This photo is authentic. I didn’t arrange things for you. This is how that corner of my desk looks all day every day.

Mornings At 2434

I stagger out of bed, feed the dogs, let them outside, make coffee and sit back down. Sometimes I wonder why I am sitting when I just got up from eight to nine hours of sleep. Why aren’t I ready for a jog, or even a leisurely stroll? Nope. I want to sit, sip my coffee and contemplate the day ahead.

I always spend some of this time talking to God and then being quiet to see if He has anything to say back. Sometimes I get an idea, or resolution to something that has been on my mind. Other times I just feel peacefully quiet. I used to write in my journal every morning. I have replaced that with my morning pages. I get to brain dump knowing I will discard the pages so no one will ever read all the garbage that can occupy the gray matter that is my brain.

We all have those thoughts, worries, anxieties, angry voices, destructive words. I know I am not alone. So now, thanks to Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way I am learning to release them by writing in a throw away notebook. It is the equivalent of taking all the junk out of one’s home, putting it in a storage unit then throwing away the key. Except the storage unit owner might sell the contents of that unit sight unseen and then someone else has to deal with all that stuff. I think I will do a ceremonial burning as I finish each notebook. I like the idea of turning all those thoughts and worries into ashes. After all, God creates beauty from ashes, therefore so should I.

Lessons Learned

Let God in first thing in the morning. Just invite Him and be still. It sets the tone for everything that is to come.

Do what prepares you for what comes next. Some days I have things to do and places to go so I drink my coffee while I am getting dressed. The talking to God happens in the shower – also one of the best places to really listen. But all of this comes after I have met my dogs’ needs. Children first.

Do you. Social media, for the most part, is staged and therefore not real. I do believe most of these people do what they show but it isn’t always so pretty and perfect. Don’t self flagellate for having an ordinary life. We are all ordinary.

Spend time alone. There is nothing more important than really knowing and loving yourself to prepare for the slings and arrows of the outside world. Get grounded, put on the armor then go into battle. The world outside your door is a war zone. Stand firm in the knowledge that God created you and is with you. Jesus has won the war and walks with you each step of the way.

Have a blessed day. You are not alone.

~Sheryl

Cries From My Soul

For more years than I can recall, my soul has longed to write. I start blogs, then I give up. I journal for a while then I give up. Why? Fear…fear of what might happen if I succeeded and the expectations that come with that success.

We all have those things that cry out from the depths of our souls; passions, drives, those themes that seem to recur regularly as we travel the path of life. I believe we are all created to add to and make this world a better place. Our lives are not without purpose or value. God placed us here at a certain time and in a certain place for a reason. Ours is to stay connected so that we may live out that higher purpose and complete the task we were assigned.

Don’t get caught up in the idea that only big things count as callings. Being a kind and caring person to all you meet, while important for all of us, some folks just seem to effortlessly be at the right place to help. And in so doing, they fulfill their calling. It is the simple things. It is act of doing what you feel most strongly about in a way that fulfills your spirit and makes the world a better place.

Conquering The Fear

My Fear Monster has controlled my life for too long. I may never get published, but I will write. However, writing is not my calling. Writing, the art and craft of using words for a specific purpose, is the vehicle for my calling. Every job, task, or activity that has had meaning and provided me with a sense of fulfillment have all shared one commonality. In all things I was able to help others. Professionally I was a nurse, an assistant teacher, church receptionist, and shop owner. I am a dismal businesswoman, but I excel at assisting and guiding people. I tried to stay in business for the mere purpose of selling items I had made. I hate it. I have to force myself to do it; thus I fail. My calling isn’t making and selling. I can do it but it robs my soul of joy. From the day forward I choose joy over fear.

So, how to find and live out your purpose? In a word, listen. In the stillness of the early morning light, quiet your mind, and listen. Listen for that still small voice inside. It takes practice to be fully quiet and present, but keep trying. Just a few minutes a day is all it takes. Give yourself this gift. First thing in the morning before the rest of the world wakes up, take time to listen.

Ritual, as a part of focusing the mind to hear and listen (yes, they are different), is important. Small things we do to prepare alert our mind that something special is about to happen. I am not great at setting up and keeping rituals. I love the idea but in practice am not great at it.

My sacred space.

I finally have my desk area set up and this is now where I spend my mornings. I light my candle, sip my coffee, read from my Bible and devotional books, write by hand in a journal and I listen. I wait. Because that still small voice may not arrive today, but it will arrive and when it does I want to be ready. Ready to hear and respond.

I believe there is an inner longing and purpose inside each of us. If only we, as human beings, would spend as much time looking inward to become better people as we do looking outward at what others are doing (or not doing), the good would soon outweigh the bad and the world would really be a beautiful place to live.

Until next time…

~Sheryl

Lulled From Slumber

A soft, filtered light streams in between the slats of the blinds, gently illuminating the room. It is quiet in here. No television. No radio. No other people. I am lulled into a state of peaceful contemplation by the sound of clothes as they roll around in the dryer, and just now the low rumble of thunder breaks through to remind me of the weather.

The remnants of a tropical Pacific storm are now moving through Texas. Gusty winds and rain have been my companions today. These are my favorite days. Alone in my thoughts with cloudy skies and rain to provide a soothing backdrop for whatever I choose to do. I cherish today as tomorrow is promised to be hot and muggy.

The wind comes in waves; tree limbs bend as water is shed from their leaves. Rain beats against the window with an ever quickening rhythm, lulling me into sweet slumber.

Necessary Rest and Diversions

I haven’t been sleeping well of late and it has taken a toll on me. So many things running through my mind and I wonder, how others seem to do it. How do some people live lives filled with just what they want and not fretting about the minutia. Because it is generally the minutia that wears me down. I carry thoughts, worries, and what ifs around like stones in a bag and then wonder why I am mentally and physically exhausted.

These days none of the usual pastimes help. Making yarn then crocheting, knitting or weaving with it used to fill the need to create and brought a calming peace to my soul. And, maybe one day it will again. But for right now all the stuff feels like a burden. A burden that needs to be set aside.

As I have written before I have had a life long love affair with books and reading. I set the activity of reading aside for many years as I was “too busy” and seemed to fall asleep every time I picked up a book. But the love for books themselves never left and I always feel a deep sense of comfort when surrounded by them. I believe that I am now entering a season in my life where reading and writing are about to take center stage in my life.

Quenching The Thirst

Of late I find myself hungry for knowledge. I want to know more, see more, experience more things. I am no longer content to sit passively by and just live in the status quo. My first reaction was, “I need to finally go to college.” And while that is a pursuit I have not ruled out, I don’t think that alone will satiate my longings.

At this moment in time, having fulfilled all the early life tasks, career, raising children and now a grandchild, we – I include my husband in this journey – are at the brink of a bold new life and I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. It is not enough to live a simple life, although that is a big portion of the goal, but to live a simple life fully. And for me that means learning, seeing, exploring and then sharing my experiences.

It means reading history and visiting places to feel the lessons from the past. Learning about the struggles of others and changing in me whatever needs to be changed to be a more loving person. It means learning new skills, eating new foods, moving forward to do those things we have only talked about for thirty years. It means living each day in a way that honors God and who He created me to be.

Do Not Fear

Fear is an ugly monster. It lives inside all of us and takes on so many different disguises. We learn to ignore, squelch and run from our fears, but until we stop, turn around and boldly face the fear monster, we are never free.

The concepts of “trust” and “do not fear” appear in scripture more than anything else. There is a reason for this. God knows we need to hear it over and over and over again. For those of you who do not believe in God, you have the same need, you simply look for your answers elsewhere. But we all have this internal anxiety.

What is my Fear Monster? Being thought of and called out as stupid, uneducated, and unworthy of an opinion. I have cowered in the face of fear and that is not the life we are called to live. I have allowed it to stop me from doing something I love and believe I’ve been given the gift to do well.

More to come…

~Sheryl

I Can See Clearly Now

June Bug has a brand new windshield. The distorted line of sight is gone enabling me to clearly see where I am traveling. If only it was this easy in other areas of life.

Navigation Systems

Today we have devices in our hands as well as in our cars that can give us verbal directions as we drive or walk. Gone are the days of wrangling a giant paper map to find the best route. I used to love to get the map out and look at all the exciting possible detours that could be taken during the course of a road trip. My husband still prefers the old way. He can lay the full map out and see all the options from which to choose his desired route. This is not possible on a small screen where you can see where you are and a line showing the best possible route to the destination. But the smaller roads, the scenic route, that is harder to find with the electronic systems. If speed and efficiency of travel are the goals then the electronic method is by far the best solution. If, however, travel for the sake of the experience is what is desired, I suggest going old school.

Change Navigation Systems

16 This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look;

ask for the ancient paths,

ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

and you will find rest for your souls.

But you said, “We will not walk in it.”

Jeremiah 6:16

Haven’t we all done this? Ask for guidance then choose to go our own way and then cry out when things don’t go well. I know I have. I am in the midst of such a situation right now. In fact I have stood at this precipice many times over the past few years and have continued on my own path. The result is an internal emptiness, lack of purpose and even success as described by the world. Frustration and inertia ruled my life. I made excuses: “try harder, work more, make this instead of that, market yourself differently, try a new name, a new product, a new……” Then I played the comparison game, “If she can do it why not me?”

Wait For Directions

This morning as I meditated and prayed this scripture I saw myself standing in the middle of an intersection. Just me and miles of road. There are four choices – go back the way I came, move forward, turn right or left. Only one of those choices is guaranteed to not end well. What is past is past. Notice scripture says “ask where the good way is.” Not the only way; the best way; or even the wrong way; ask where the good way is and walk in it.

Follow Where Led

Sometimes we get so caught up in the right and wrong that we miss what God is doing in every moment of our lives. It isn’t that the paths I have been choosing are wrong or bad, they simply aren’t the best for me. I have another road to take. I can choose to travel that way or not. What is promised to me is that if I travel on the path set before me by God, it will be well with my soul. Not easy or painless, but in the end my soul will be at rest. What a gift that will be.

Until tomorrow I pray that as you stand at your crossroad, you choose the good path and follow it with confidence.

Silence

We recently added to our family. A bouncy, happy, always loving little four legged family member moved in a few months ago. Belle has been a member of our extended family since she was eight weeks old; this was her first home after leaving her mom. She belonged to our daughter and when she left, Belle went with her.

Life is a fluid thing. Nothing ever stays the same for long—change is a constant. When faced with moving to an apartment we were asked to take Belle in for a short time. The inevitable happened, we both became attached. Actually, all three of us became attached. Her visit became permanent. Our daughter and her family decided to allow Belle to live here and they will adopt another dog who is better suited to living with children.

Our dog Maggie has ever only played with one dog and that dog is Belle. Maggie is an old soul who never learned to play as a puppy and was damaged goods when we rescued her eight years ago. She has always welcomed Belle back into her home and willingly shared all she has with her. Belle, who has now become a bit grumpy with other dogs, likewise is generous with Maggie. They are a match made in heaven.

Belle has a very specific schedule. Every morning between 5:45-6:00 she is ready to get up and is not shy about letting me know she is awake. First a couple little whimpers, then a kiss or two on my arm. If I do not respond she becomes a tad more vocal and persistent. So as to not wake hubby I get up and begin my day; I am thankful for my new alarm clock.

You see, this has always been my best time of day but since “retirement” I have allowed myself to just wake whenever or stay in bed longer than necessary. Once up I am not one to go back to bed. Belle has forced me to face the day while it is still dark outside. Dark and silent.

After seeing to the needs of the dogs, I make my first cup of coffee and sit in my Victorian wing back chair in a corner of my studio. A small lamp illuminates just this area. I am not ready for overhead lights. I wish to enter the day slowly, thoughtfully, and with just enough light to be able to read a Scripture for meditation. Once I have read it a couple of times—or as many as necessary—I turn off the light, close my eyes and ponder what I have read. Some of the pondering is active and some is passive. I think about a word or a phrase and then I wait. I wait on the Lord of move my spirit in the desired direction.

In the silence of the early morning I hear the world waking up. The birds, an occasional squirrel running across the roof, then there are the cars and other signs of life around me. But through it all my mind and spirit are resting, listening, anticipating. I know that it is here that I feel the peace and the presence of God. I really don’t want this time to end.

I keep a journal, a sketchbook, pencil, pens and watercolors on the table with my Bible and a book that guides my meditations. More on that book next week. My time alone with God is not finished until I have recorded something in my sketchbook. It is a private and visual record of what I heard in the silence. This is a new practice for me and one that has already become my sacred time. Before I know it two hours has gone by and I am ready to tackle the rest of my day.

May you find your own sacred time and practice. Until Monday have a blessed and healthy weekend.

Are You Listening?

There is has never been a time in my modern recollection that humanity has been in greater need of soul nurturing than right here, right now.

I look at this pandemic and all the chaos going on worldwide as an opportunity for a reboot. A unique moment in time when we are in a forced isolation and we have a choice. It is as if God is trying to get the attention of the entire world. We can look at the humans scrambling to fix it or we can look to God for understanding. Continue with the old way of doing things or listen to that still small voice in our heart and make changes.

What kind of changes? Depends on who you are and what you need. For me, I need to simplify, prioritize, and allow God to permeate every moment of every day.

I have written about my love for choral music. I believe I have the soul of a monastic. I am at my most peaceful and content when I tune out the modern world and immerse myself in music that draws me near to God; spending the first part of my day in the presence of my Creator, waiting and listening for that which is just for me, then going about my day feeling that connection. Making things with my hands is the natural outpouring of how my day begins. Whether I am making yarn, a meal or doing laundry, I am doing all as unto the Lord. Everything is sacred because it is all a gift.

How will you use the gift of today? I pray that you find something of eternal value in your day.