Where The Bright Light Shines

I love to go outside at night. There is a calm and a peace that flows over me as I immerse myself in the darkness. My time as a Girl Scout taught me to be prepared, so I never go without a source of light to guide my steps.

As a kid, a flashlight provided many hours of fun for me and my brother. Shine it through your hand, under your chin, up in the air and out at a distance. Although we didn’t realize it at the time, there were scientific as well as valuable life lessons happening as we played.

When we shined the light at our feet there was a strong, clear ring of light guiding out next step. But, if the beam of light is directed out into the darkness, it fades into nothingness. There is no direction or warning of a misstep ahead.

Life is filled with unknowns. How do we know for sure that we are making the right decision? Jesus, teaching at the synagogue, shocked the Jewish people with his knowledge. They wondered aloud how he knew so much when he had not been taught. Jesus replied:

My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own.

John 7:16-17

As I stay close to God through reading scripture, praying and then listening I am taking the first step in doing the will of God. I am doing my part to maintain the relationship, I am sensitive to what happens around me and I can see the light guiding the way. God’s path is always the best path. He will only guide me to what is best for me and that path reflects the credit back to him. THIS, is my circle of life.

~Sheryl

Will Power

From the moment babies learn that they are independent from their parents a struggle for autonomy and authority begins. We have all heard of the “strong-willed” child. When it comes to God’s power in our lives, I believe most of us are still strong-willed children. I know I am.

Jesus is my example. So, I ask for God’s will not mine and I wait to see what doors are opened and experiences come across my path as I go about my day to day life. God’s will is always what is best for me.

~Sheryl

The Work Of Gratitude

Sometimes being thankful is hard. Seeing the good in the midst of pain, sadness, illness, loss, grief, disappointment or even everyday inconveniences is sometimes a difficult task to accomplish. Life is messy. The holiday season is in full swing with the movies and television shows that portray a version of the happiest time of the year that many people simply cannot identify with or want to participate in. There are a myriad of reasons for this, all personal and no one else’s business; however, if this is you, I have been where you are, I understand.

To my aging vision, so many people seem hyper-focused on how they have been marginalized, slighted, ignored, overlooked, mistreated, or wronged. I don’t mean to dismiss them or their feelings; that is their reality and I would never deny someone’s experience. What I know about me and my thought process is when all I do is focus on how others have hurt, offended, or mistreated me I get bitter, resentful and more angry; I then allow my imagination to create scenarios that don’t even exist. It becomes a vicious cycle that steals the joy and peace from my life. There is no room for thankfulness. Because I understand my weakness for this mindset, I work really hard to focus on the good, the pure, and the kind things of life. It changes my perspective. It changes my mood. It changed my life.

Brain Filter

I guard my brain. Please be careful who you listen to and what you allow into your head. Don’t let just anyone or anything make themselves at home in your brain. Be ruthless in this area. Change whatever needs to change to only allow the things that build you up and fill you with peace and love. The issues you used to stew over will still be in the world, but you will be equipped to tackle them from a place of love rather than anger. In my case I have stopped listening to political news. I keep up just enough to know what is happening but I don’t allow the pundits of either side enter my consciousness. It wasn’t healthy for me. I pray and I vote. I have peace of mind. I spend enough time being mindful of myself and all that usually gets me is worry and anxiety — over thinking is a true buzz kill. Now I write all those worries down and throw them away.

Pull Out The Pen & Paper

This might sound trite, but writing down all the thoughts in my head has transformed me. It goes by many names, but it is basically “stream of consciousness” writing. You don’t censor yourself. You just put pen to paper and write whatever is in your head. Sometimes there isn’t much, other times you will fill pages and pages with the thoughts that rob you of peace and mental quiet. Do a web search for this and give it a try. What you write is for no one else to read. In fact, the best thing to do is to think of the paper or journal as a trash can. Write then destroy. There is also something important about writing by hand on paper that seems to really work for most people. But no matter how you do it, get that crap out of your head and then refill it with the good stuff. This process is how I am learning to live in the moment which makes me more aware of those around me. Now I see the world through the lens of loving kindness; what used to annoy me I more easily overlook; what I used to ignore now calls my heart to action.

And finally, if you are the one in need—let others help you. You will actually be giving them a gift by allowing them to give. Accept what is needed today then pay it forward when you are able.

My hope for you is that this holiday season, no matter what that means to you, is one of renewal, hope and joy.

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

Inspired By Dandelions

Life is an ever evolving cycle of change. Nothing stays the same no matter how hard we try or how desperately we wish to freeze frame a moment in time. To fight against change is to miss the beauty of this naturally cyclical thing we call life.

A dandelion’s life purpose is to sow seeds to the wind so that new little seedlings can be brought to life. This is how I see myself. Like a dandelion with a head full of little seeds ready to be set free.

Seasons of Life

Each season of life has its own purpose, tasks to accomplish before moving forward. It is a rich and complex subject that deserves time to properly digest and dissect. I am finally coming to grips with the fact that I am entering a new season of my life. I have actually been traveling this road for the past four years; now at the door I have the choice to stand and knock or open it and walk through to what waits for me on the other side. Standing motionless is safe but does nothing to help me or anyone else. So, I really have only one option – open the door and boldly walk into whatever it is God has for me on the other side.

Gathering and Dispersing

In the past few months something has been happening in my heart and mind. I am suddenly seeing things in the world through a new lens; a softer and gentler lens. I won’t delve too deeply into this today but I will say that it has taken me by surprise. As I have been open to these thoughts and allowed them to penetrate any barriers that rise due to the discomfort of new things, I am feeling my way along a new path. A path I believe God is leading me one step at a time.

This morning I read an excerpt from a book called “Falling Upward” by Fr Richard Rohr. In this book, Fr Rohr discusses the spiritual and life purposes in the two halves of life. I believe that I am in preparation for my second phase of life: the giving away or dispersing of what I have learned in the first phase. This book will arrive at my door tomorrow. Just when I swear off the immediate gratification of Amazon, something like this crosses my path.

Seedlings

Whatever it is I am to do with the wisdom I have gained is unknown. I am less worried about the what than the preparation. My heart is softening. I am reading and growing in knowledge. I will be (at age 63) attending college beginning in January. I am practicing spiritual disciplines to connect more deeply with God to be sure I am traveling on the best path for his purpose in my life.

I choose to think of my writings here as seedlings. Little bits of information that I send out into the world to take hold if and when they are needed. That is my hope and prayer for every post. Since seedlings represent growth and new life what you will find here are just little nuggets of wisdom and goodness designed to lift up and never tear down. There is enough pain and suffering in the world. My passion is to apply a soothing balm on a hurting humanity. I trust God to guide and direct the writing and the reading of everything on this little blog.

There will be talk of books, dogs, family and all the normal stuff of life. I love to crochet and make art with my yarn and hooks; it is another way for me to express beauty of the world around me. My husband and I will be traveling more so I will take many photos and will share those as well. Whatever is good, and right, kind and beautiful will all find its way here. There is also pain in life…I won’t shy away from that either. It is only in the journey through the pain that we find light once again.

If you have made it this far, thank you. If what I have said has spoken to you, then I hope you will follow along. Either way, thank you for reading.

~Sheryl

Who’s In Control?

Wowza! Last week was certainly a doozy. I feel as though I lived several lifetimes in the course of the past seven days. I don’t recognize much of anything in the world these days and that may not be a bad thing.

Real Old Testament Stuff

Movie buffs will remember those words as part of a famous scene from the original movie Ghostbusters. Follow the link to watch the scene, it is worth it. But the truth is, we are living in an Old Testament type state of mass hysteria and there is only one answer. It is the same answer that existed for the Israelites of the Old Testament and the only one that would really solve the problems that exist today.


His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who call us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:3-4

Powerless Without Humility

Humanity relying on its own knowledge and wisdom, trying to solve the problems created by that knowledge and wisdom is doomed to make matters worse. Without God, we, by nature, do all that we do with a personal bias and self interest. It is only with God that we are able to step outside of ourselves and do that which is righteous.

The United States has moved further and further away from the principles on which it was founded. This is not a right vs left, Republican vs Democrat issue. This is a wide spread humanity issue. We are all guilty and fall short of God’s perfect plan. We are all sinners and must humble ourselves before God and pray. I am regularly wakened in the middle of the night with a thought in my mind that I know has been placed there by God. I lay still and pray until I fall back asleep. Once my job is done, sleep returns. It is a beautiful symbiotic relationship that I cherish more than life itself. The giver of life is calling on me to assist in his precious work.

Humility

I recognize my weakness and my flaws (well, most of them). I understand that if I believe that power resides within me to change the world then I am a fool. However, if I live in humility and supplication to God, the creator of the universe, then his power works through me to accomplish more than I could ever dream possible. He is at work in advance of everything I am to do; he is paving the way, softening minds and hearts and will bring to me the people and circumstances that are intended for me. The result will be his glory shining in the world through me. I am made less, that he is made greater.

There is not been, in my lifetime, a greater example of humanity grasping for power and control than we have right now. Some would say it is President Trump who is trying to overthrow our democracy. I say it is the ones that are trying to destroy him. It is not enough that he will no longer be the President; no they are attempting to destroy him as a human being. He has less than two weeks before leaving the White House. Let him walk out and back into private life then move on. But that is not good enough for the people who are anxious for power and control.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are promised not an easy life, but a life that looks much like what Donald Trump has experienced during the past five years. We are targets of those who do not believe. We are targets of other ‘religions’ and their followers. We are targets of those within our own denominations and between denominations. Standing firm in one’s faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone is guaranteed to bring earthly isolation and pain.

But take heart as we are not alone. Remember I said God goes before us? If everything we do in life is preceded with prayer and thankfulness to God through faith in Jesus Christ, We will be able to endure the arrows and stones sent our way. How does President Trump keep going day in and day out? It isn’t under his own power. There is only one way to survive what he has survived and that is the knowledge that his path was set before him by God.

Spend time with God every morning. Come to him with an open and thankful heart then wait for him to show you your way through this season of mass hysteria. We all have a job to do and no two paths are exactly the same. But if we each just do what we are given to do, change will happen. Nothing is impossible with God.

~Sheryl

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.

Visible And Invisible

Out of sight, out of mind. That sums up my brain most of the time. I set things down and don’t give them another thought until one day I need it, and, well, let’s just say it isn’t pretty. I’m worse with things I hear but don’t see. I don’t know about you but when I focus on the crazy things happening in the world I begin to think that what I see is the only reality. What a horrible existence. Thankfully, I know that there is more going on than meets the eye.

What Is The Real Battle?

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12 NIV

It is so easy to look with the eyes and not the heart. With our eyes we see people fighting for a cause they passionately believe in, refusing to hear or see alternative views. It is so human to make judgements and take sides. We see violence, destruction and the rejection of all forms of authority. It seems frightening, like the world is “going to hell in a hand basket.” When this overwhelms me, I just stop and remember that I am never alone. I have the power of God and the victory over evil through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, I turn off the television news. I listen to music that soothes my spirit and enriches my mind. I pray. And I go about my life looking for those little moments God gives me to speak in love. Not everyone will understand. And that is OK. I have done my job. I am at peace.

May your day be filled with the things that bring joy and peace to your soul…

What Lies Beneath

In 1976 I went to school to become a medical assistant. Among the skills we learned was how to count red blood cells in a sample of blood. I loved this glimpse into the microscopic world. My fascination with minutia continues to this day. There is magic that exists beyond what can be seen with the eyes alone.

This fascination can be seen in my “Organic Crochet” style of fiber art. I love to create, with yarn and a hook, the kinds of shapes and textures found just beyond the surface in nature.

There is a wealth of beauty around us, the key to is to look…really look beyond what the eye can see and the ear can hear. The key is to take the time and effort to really see and hear. Watch and and really see without preconceived ideas. Hear and really listen not merely to what is said, but the emotions underlying the words. Dig beyond the superficial and discern for yourself what you truly believe and hold dear.

I believe that if we treat each individual we encounter in this manner, treating them with kindness, patience, and respect unless proved otherwise, our world would be a much happier and peaceful place.

I serve a loving, omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly just God. I pray each day to have the eyes that see and ears that hear. He sees and knows all. He understands the hearts and minds of mankind and I trust that when I am connected to him in this way, he works through me to be the kind and accepting person I am called to be.

Until tomorrow I pray for you to have eyes that see and ears that hear….

Disconnected

This is how I view the world today.

I’m a child of the sixties – born in 1958, my young childhood was shaped by the sixties. Like most kids of the day my world view came from family, school, and television. My TV watching preferences included cartoons, Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies, Get Smart The Brady Bunch and The Wonderful World of Disney among others. Our life was not perfect, but I knew nothing different and I was happy.

My husband was born in 1947 and grew up in the fifties. This period of time is often idealized for the economic prosperity that came after the end of WWII. The nuclear family was strong, people began moving for work thus increasing opportunities for economic success. For a child, this must have seemed like a magical time to grow up. My husband had a happy childhood.

We were children and we viewed our world as children. Those experiences have helped shape us into the adults we are today. We have both grown and expanded our horizons of beliefs and now can view the times we grew up in through less rose colored glasses. We can recognize that not everyone had the kind of life we had. No child can possibly understand that concept, but as adults we can look back and see through adult eyes the inequalities.

One of the things that seemed to hold us together, as a country, was the shared vision of us as Americans. We have continued to evolve throughout history and, though often painful, we continue to evolve. This time feels different. I feel isolated and helpless. I believe that there are lots of folks out there silently feeling as I do, desperately needing to know we are not alone. I need to move away from the shouting to find a place of peace and purpose.

I find solace in God and expression in my art. I am a fiber artist and that is where I go to express what words cannot. I prayed this morning, thankful for a new day and a new opportunity to reach out to the world. This blog is part of my daily work. I also asked for wisdom and guidance in communicating what can no longer be done verbally. We are living in a time where no matter what one person says to another, the potential exists to be misinterpreted. It is as though the words are scrambled in midair before reaching the other person’s ears, much like the adults in Peanuts cartoons , it all sounds like gibberish.

I pulled out my sketchbook and recorded four or five pages of ideas for art pieces that express the disconnect I see and feel. I even have a title for the collection. I now have more inspiration than it seems I have a lifetime to create. But, I will take it one step at a time, seeking God’s guidance along the way, as my hands are doing the work but it is Him guiding the message.

Order out of chaos.

I believe that as citizens it is important to know what our elected officials are doing – or not doing. I watch and read, staying informed; however, once informed, I will not dwell on these events. I will dwell upon the things that are good, pure, righteous and of God. For what I dwell upon transforms my mind and spirit. God is order. God is love and peace. That is what I want in my life and I know where to go to find it.

Until tomorrow, may your day be filled with good thoughts and a peaceful heart…